Donald Trump wants to clarify that he’s “the least racist person there is.” In fact, he says, he’s so not-racist that Randal Pinkett, who is black, “won on The Apprentice a little while ago, a couple years ago, and Randal’s been outstanding in every way.”
Trump was on Fox & Friends Monday and addressed a campaign by Color Of Change, a political advocacy group for African-Americans, to get Celebrity Apprentice contestants Star Jones and Lil Jon to condemn Trump for “race-baiting.”
“When it comes to racism and racists,” Trump said, “I am the least racist person there is. And I think most people that know me would tell you that. I am the least racist. I’ve had great relationships.”
“In fact,” Trump added, “Randal Pinkett won on The Apprentice a little while ago, a couple years ago, and Randal’s been outstanding in every way. So I am the least racist person. But [Van Jones] is a guy trying to get some publicity for himself by attacking Donald Trump.”
(Van Jones is no longer associated with Color of Change — see update below.)
Pinkett won the show in 2005, and was the first African-American contestant to win.
Color Of Change argued that Trump’s crusade over President Obama’s birth certificate was steeped in racism, and said in a statement: “This is the first organized attempt to target these celebrities and demand that they, as prominent African-Americans, take a public stance against Donald Trump’s ongoing attacks against President Obama.” The shopping site Groupon also pulled its ads from the Celebrity Apprentice‘s website after customers complained.
But this is not the first time Trump’s been accused of racism. Trump and The Apprentice were slammed in 2004 after one task involved a black contestant selling candy in front of a New York City subway. That same contestant was later “fired” from the show because he had too much ”ambition,” ”intensity,” and an ”unbelievable resume.”
And as Salon’s Justin Elliott reported, in the 1970s Trump was sued by the federal government for discriminating against non-white renters in some of his New York buildings.
In April when he was accused of racism over the birther issue, Trump defended himself thusly: “I’ve always had a great relationships with the blacks. Some of my best friends are blacks.”
Late Update: Rashad Robinson, executive director of Color Of Change, sent TPM a statement today clarifying that though the group is behind the Celebrity Apprentice campaign, Van Jones has not actually been associated with them for a number of years (an earlier version of this post linked the two in error): “Van Jones hasn’t worked with ColorOfChange for more than four years, but the right-wing media has consistently and deliberately tried to misrepresent our work as his. It’s an effort to avoid the issues we raise and distract from the fact that our work is powered by the voices of hundreds of thousands of people from across the country.”