House Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries seems to have at least partially walked back describing President Donald Trump as “the Grand Wizard of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.”
Jeffries gave the title previously given to the head of the Ku Klux Klan to Trump during a speech honoring Martin Luther King Jr. on Monday.
“What were you going for by calling him the grand wizard?” Cuomo asked during an interview Wednesday night.
“Well let me again stipulate to the fact that I do not believe that Donald Trump is a card carrying member of the KKK. However, he does have a long and inappropriate and invidious history of racially inflammatory behavior,” the congressman responded. “In the 1970s, he presided over the Trump organization that was sued by the Nixon Justice Department for racial discrimination against thousands of black and Latino housing applicants.”
“In the 1980s he led the lynch mob that went after the Central Park five — black and Latino young men, wrongfully accused, wrongfully convicted, wrongfully imprisoned for a crime they did not commit,” he continued. “For five years Donald Trump perpetrated the racist lie that Barack Obama was not born in the United States of America to delegitimize the first black president in the United States of America and then became president.” (RELATED: MLK’s Niece Encourages America To ‘Pray Without Ceasing’ — Especially For Donald Trump)
Cuomo then asked why Jeffries why he wouldn’t just own his previous comments, saying point blank, “Why don’t you own it?”
“Well I think I have been clear that I have no regrets about making the analogy that I made because I think that we need to have a candid discussion about race at least on Martin Luther King day and sometimes that discussion will be uncomfortable,” Jeffries added. “But I also understand that many people throughout this country are of the view that we should give the president the benefit of the doubt, any president including this one and I do believe in redemption.”
He has made similar comments about the president and his supporters in the past. In June, 2016, he claimed that “every racist in America voted for Donald Trump” during House proceedings.