After Donald Trump on Friday admitted that President Obama was born in the United States, while also falsely claiming that Hillary Clinton started the birther movement and that he “finished it,” members of the Congressional Black Caucus tore into Trump, calling him a bigot and a fraud.
The lawmakers, who were gathered in Washington, D.C. for their annual legislative conference, argued that by pushing the birther movement for years, Trump made an attempt to delegitimize the first black president, and they called out Trump for peddling lies.
Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY) called Trump’s Friday comments about the birther movement “deplorable.”
“To lie and say that the birther movement was started by Hillary Clinton and he was finishing it, and that he was born in America, and then walk off, has got to stop. He’s lied and he’s divided this country enough. He lied about Muslims,” Meeks said. “He’s lied about Mexicans. He’s lied about women.”
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-NY) said that if “debasing, misrepresenting and lying were a crime,” then Trump would be disqualified from running for president.
“He has committed a crime against the United States and the American people,” she said.
Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI) said that Trump’s birther comments about Obama are a “dog whistle.”
“This is a dog whistle to all other Americans who are not African-Americans to say, ‘See, you’re all right. Don’t worry about hiring that black woman or that black man because, after all, the most iconic African-American in history is, indeed, not worthy of the American dream.’ Be clear, this is not just about degrading the reputation of Barack Obama. It’s about degrading the American dream for all African-Americans,” she said.
Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-SC) said Trump’s comments about Obama were beyond a dog whistle, calling them the “howl of wolves.”
“One of the things that we all are used to in this business is dog whistles, but the thing that we’re not used to, and I’m finding it very difficult to getting used to, are the howls of wolves. These are howls. These are not whistles. These are in your face kinds of efforts on the part of one man who is utilizing — I should say misusing the media — in order to heap indignities upon the President of these United States,” he said.
Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ) commiserated with the media and complained that Trump used his planned statement on birtherism as a way to promote his new hotel.
She said that he refused to say Obama was born in the U.S. previously “because he needed people to come to the opening of his hotel, because for Trump it’s only about his business, it’s only about what is good for him.”
She added that Trump “doesn’t believe the things he’s forced to say now in order to curry favor with people who are never, never going to support him.”