CNN's Jim Acosta walks through all the times Trump has 'thrown gasoline' on racial tension
CNN’s Jim Acosta (screengrab)

On CNN Friday, following President Donald Trump's abrupt exit from a press conference following a racially charged tweet, chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta broke down President Donald Trump's history of stoking racial tensions during moments of crisis.

"He is trying to clean up this tweet that he posted last night," said Acosta. "First, just what the president said a few moments ago. He said the looters in Minneapolis should not be able to drown out the voice of so many peaceful protesters. That, obviously, is a very mild version of what he was trying to say or he claims he was trying to say last night when he tweeted, "when the looting starts, the shooting starts." That obviously is an expression steeped in all kinds of ugliness. The Miami Police chief back in 1967, when there was unrest in that city, used that expression. George Wallace, the segregationist, used words like that in 1968."

"The president put out another tweet saying, he didn't mean, "when the looting starts, the shooting starts," he meant to say, he says in this tweet, that when looting happens, people can get shot," continued Acosta. "That just strains credulity. And I think the president knew it. He did not take questions from reporters, including myself, in the Rose Garden. He raced out of there after making some comments about China ... and then that was it."

"After playing the arsonist last night, he's trying to play the firefighter today, but he's essentially trying to put out flames that are engulfing his presidency right now," said Acosta. "This is a president ... who plays the racial card, who hits racial hot buttons all the time, going back to Charlottesville, saying there are very fine people on both sides, talking about African-American athletes who take a knee on a football field to protest police brutality and calling them 'sons of b*tches,' referring to African nations as 'sh*thole countries' and so on. This is a president who time and again throws gasoline on this virus, as Don was talking about, 'racism-20.'"

"This president is in cleanup mode right now, but he is doing it in a cowardly way," Acosta added later. "He calls a Rose Garden press conference and then doesn't take questions from reporters when he knows full well we're going to ask about "when the looting starts, the shooting starts." And hightails it out of there. It's not a profile in courage. It's a profile in cowardice."

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