The president?s remarks about Black protesters and coronavirus during a campaign rally in Tulsa are just the latest examples
President Donald Trump answers questions before boarding Marine One while departing the White House on October 10, 2019 in Washington, DC. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images
Donald Trump has claimed he is the ?least racist person there is anywhere in the world.? Like many things the president says, nothing could be further from the truth. Trump regularly makes racist comments and deploys bigotry as a divisive political weapon.
Trump?s racism long predates his foray into politics. Before he ever launched a presidential bid, Trump had exhibited a pattern of discrimination toward his Black tenants, called for draconian punitive measures in the Central Park Five case, and made a public show of questioning Barack Obama?s citizenship.
But the political spotlight ? and a rabid base ? has only made Trump?s incendiary rhetoric grow worse. Ahead, we look at the most racist things he?s said since he officially began his political career in the summer of 2015.
(Editor?s Note: This list will be updated as Trump makes other bigoted remarks.)
July 2015: Trump falsely claimed that migrants bring diseases into the United States. ?Tremendous infectious disease is pouring across the border,? Trump said in a statement. ?The United States has become a dumping ground for Mexico and, in fact, for many other parts of the world.?
June 2017: During a meeting to talk about U.S. visas, Trump said that people from Haiti ?all have AIDS? and that Nigerian immigrants would never ?go back to their huts? after experiencing the United States.
January 2018: At a bipartisan meeting discussing protections for immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador, and African countries, Trump asked: ?Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?? He then suggested the United States should accept more immigrants from countries such as Norway.
May 2018: Trump called undocumented immigrants ?animals? at a meeting with reporters in the White House. ?You wouldn?t believe how bad these people are,? he said. ?These aren?t people, these are animals.?
October 2018: Trump portrayed a migrant caravan as a violent threat to the United States. ?Criminals and unknown Middle Easterners are mixed in,? he tweeted. He also called it an ?invasion.? A midterm campaign ad on the topic from the Trump team was so racist that even Fox News refused to air it.
October 2019: At a campaign rally in Minneapolis, Trump promised his administration ?wouldn?t make the mistakes made in European countries and allow a violent ideology to take root in our country on our shores.? Minnesota is home to some 52,000 Somalis, the largest concentration in the country. The crowd booed repeatedly as Trump mentioned the state?s Somali migrants, and cheered when he promised to ?give local communities a greater say in refugee policy.? The president then bragged about slashing the country?s cap on refugee admissions to its lowest amount in decades. ?In the Trump administration, we will always protect American families first, and that has not been done in Minnesota,? he said.
September 2015: Trump falsely suggested that Syrian refugees could be ISIS fighters in disguise.
December 2015: ?Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country?s representatives can figure out what the hell is going on,? Trump said at a rally in South Carolina. His administration eventually implemented a travel ban on people from five majority-Muslim countries.
March 2016: ?I think Islam hates us,? he claimed in an interview with CNN.
On Black people
August 2016: Trump told Black voters: ?You?re living in poverty, your schools are no good, you have no jobs, 58% of your youth is unemployed. What the hell do you have to lose?? His claim was untrue on many levels, not least of which was that according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for young Black people at that time was only 19.2%.
October 2016: Trump often acts like majority Black cities in the United States are war zones. ?Our inner cities are a disaster,? Trump said. ?You get shot walking to the store. They have no education, they have no jobs.?
August 2018: Trump routinely deploys the racist trope that Black men are less intelligent. ?LeBron James was just interviewed by the dumbest man on television, Don Lemon,? he tweeted. ?He made LeBron look smart, which isn?t easy to do. I like Mike!?
July 2019: After Elijah Cummings criticized the conditions of immigrant detention centers at the U.S.-Mexico border, Trump called the Maryland congressman?s district a ?disgusting, rat, and rodent infested mess? and ?far worse and more dangerous? than the detention centers. The district is majority Black and includes a large swath of Baltimore.
October 2019: Trump called the impeachment inquiry against him a ?lynching,? comparing the constitutionally sanctioned process to the extrajudicial murders of Black Americans following the Civil War. According to the NAACP, there were 4,743 recorded lynchings between 1882 and 1968. Roughly three-quarters of the victims were African American, with lynchings used as a weapon to terrorize the Black community.
May 2020: Trump took to Twitter to express his displeasure with the anti-racism protests around the country following the police killing of George Floyd and other Black Americans. ?These THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, and I won?t let that happen. Just spoke to Governor Tim Walz and told him that the Military is with him all the way,? he wrote. ?Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts.? The phrase ?when the looting starts, the shooting starts? has a racist history, being used before by a white police chief in response to civil unrest and a segregationist politician. Twitter placed a warning on the tweet, saying it ?violated the Twitter Rules about glorifying violence.?
June 2020: Trump called anti-racism protesters ?looters, thugs? and ?others forms of Lowlife & Scum? on Twitter. Later that month, at a campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, he called demonstrators in the city ?thugs,? even though police reports said protests in the city had in in fact been peaceful.
On Asian people
March 2020: As the coronavirus pandemic ravaged the country, Trump insisted on calling the disease ?the Chinese virus,? playing right into old racist tropes.
May 2020: At a press briefing, CBS News reporter Weijia Jiang asked Trump why he continued to falsely claim the U.S. was doing testing for the coronavirus at higher rates than other countries. She asked: ?Why is this a global competition to you if every day Americans are still losing their lives?? In return, Trump deflected the question before telling Jiang, who is Chinese-American: ?They?re losing their lives everywhere in the world, and maybe that?s a question you should ask China. Don?t ask me, ask China that question, OK?? When Jiang pressed him on is response, Trump said he would give the same answer to ?anybody that asks a nasty question.? He then abruptly ended the briefing.
June 2020: Trump called Covid-19 the ?kung flu? at his Tulsa, Oklahoma, rally.
On Mexican people
June 2015: Trump launched his presidential bid with these infamous comments: ?When Mexico sends its people, they?re not sending their best ? they?re not sending you. They?re not sending you. They?re sending people that have lots of problems and they?re bringing those problems with us,? he said. ?They?re bringing drugs. They?re bringing crime. They?re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.?
June 2016: Trump argued that Judge Gonzalo Curiel ? an Indiana-born judge who was overseeing the lawsuit against the now-defunct Trump University ? could not be impartial because of his ?Mexican heritage.? Trump added: ?I?m building a wall. It?s an inherent conflict of interest.?
On Native Americans
May 2016: Trump referred to Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who earlier in her life claimed to have Native American heritage, despite the lack of any known Native American ancestors, as ?Pocahontas.? He tweeted: ?Goofy Elizabeth Warren, sometimes referred to as Pocahontas because she faked the fact she is Native American, is a lowlife!? The president has used it in tweets at least 20 times since. He has also frequently used it in rallies ? and vowed to revive the slur as Warren?s presidential campaign goes on.
February 2019: In another tweet targeting Warren, Trump mocked the Trail of Tears ? which led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands Native Americans.
On white nationalists
August 2017: Following the Unite the Right white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, that led to the murder of counterprotester Heather Heyer, Trump refused to condemn the right-wing marchers. Instead, he insisted that ?many sides? and ?both sides? were to blame for the day?s violence. Trump also said that the white nationalist groups included ?some very fine people.?
On Jewish people
July 2016: Trump tweeted a graphic that was previously posted on a white nationalist message board showing Hillary Clinton along with a six-pointed star and a pile of cash and the phrase ?most corrupt candidate ever.? The graphic was a classic anti-Semitic trope.
August 2019: Trump resurfaced the anti-Semitic charge of ?dual loyalty.? He told reporters: ?I think any Jewish people that vote for a Democrat, I think it shows either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty.?
On Puerto Ricans
October 2017: After being criticized for his incompetent response to Hurricane Maria, Trump called Puerto Ricans ?politically motivated ingrates.? He would later deny that 3,000 people died because of the storm, despite overwhelming evidence that this was the case.
On the Squad
July 2019: Trump took aim at four congresswomen of color ? Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley, and Rashida Tlaib ? in a tweet that was clearly racist. ?Why don?t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came,? Trump tweeted. ?Then come back and show us how it is done.? Ocasio-Cortez was born in the Bronx; Tlaib is from Detroit; and Pressley was born in Cincinnati. Omar, who was born in Somalia, has lived in the United States for 25 years and became an American citizen in 2000. Trump gleefully reacted to ?Send her back!? chants at his rally, and only disavowed them after pressure from the GOP.
June 2020: At rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Trump attacked several Democratic women of color. Speaking about Rep. Omar, Trump said she ?would like to make the government of our country just like the country from where she came, Somalia. No government, no safety, no police, no nothing. Just anarchy.?