Van Jones, the former Obama administration official and current CNN commentator, said on Friday that President Trump ‘doesn’t get credit’ for the ‘good things’ he has done for African Americans, prompting Twitter users to call for his firing.
Jones made the comment while providing on-air analysis during Jake Tapper’s daily CNN broadcast on Friday.
Tapper began the segment by panning Trump’s comment during Thursday’s debate in which the president said he had done more for black Americans than any of his predecessors aside from Abraham Lincoln.
The CNN host, who mentioned Lyndon Johnson’s signing into law of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as an example of a president who did more for African Americans than Trump, then played a clip from the debate.
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In the footage, Trump says he is the ‘least racist person in this room.’
‘Eight in ten black Americans believe that Trump is a racist, according to a Washington Post/Ipsos poll earlier this year,’ Tapper said.
‘Why does the president make comments like that instead of acknowledging that he has said things that seem insensitive but he wants to work on it?’
Jones responded that it wasn’t in the president’s character to admit to wrongdoing.
He then pivoted to praise Trump for doing ‘good things’ for the black community.
‘I think it’s really unfortunate because Donald Trump, and I get beat up by liberals every time I say it but I keep saying it, he has done good stuff for the black community,’ Jones said.
‘Black college stuff, I worked with him on criminal stuff, I saw Donald Trump have African American people, formerly incarcerated, in the White House – embraced them, treated them well.
‘There is a side to Donald Trump that I think he does not get enough credit for.’
But Jones then said that Trump’s actions made it harder for the public to give him credit.
‘But the reason he doesn’t is because he also says the most incendiary stuff, he retweets white nationalists, and he violates the number one rule of blackness, which is, I don’t mess with people who mess with people I don’t mess with,’ Jones said.
‘In other words, I’m not friends with people who are friends of my enemies.
‘And so the black community can appreciate some of the stuff he’s done, but when they see him playing footsie on Twitter with these white nationalist organizations, it just wipes it all out.’
While Trump called himself the ‘least racist person in this room’ on Thursday night, Democrat Joe Biden gave the exact opposite assessment during a tussle over race during the Nashville presidential debate.
‘Abraham Lincoln here is one of the most racist presidents in modern history,’ Biden said.
Trump had tried to tarnish Biden’s civil rights record by pointing to his Senate vote in the 1994 crime bill and falsely claimed the former vice president had referred to black men as ‘super predators.’
‘Nobody has done more for the black community than Donald Trump… with the exception of Abraham Lincoln, possible exception, but with the exception of Abraham Lincoln, nobody has done what I’ve done,’ Trump said, repeating a boast he’s been making all year, name-dropping the president who ended slavery.
The president pointed to his record of funding historically black colleges and universities, signing the bipartisan First Step act – a big criminal justice reform bill – and creating so-called ‘opportunity zones’ to boost minority communities.
Debate moderator Kristen Welker asked Trump about a different part of his record – noting how he had called the Black Lives Matter movement a ‘symbol of hate.’
She also mentioned how Trump had shared a video of a man chanting ‘white power’ and he lashed out at athletes who have taken a knee over racial inequality.
‘The first time I ever heard of Black Lives Matter, they were chanting “Pigs in a blanket,” talking about our police, “fry them like a bacon,” I said that is a horrible thing,’ the president said.
‘I thought it was a terrible thing.’
He then made the claim, ‘I am the least racist person in this room.’
Biden then made fun of Trump’s Abraham Lincoln line.
‘He pours a fuel on every single racist fire,’ Biden said. ‘Every single one.’
‘He started his campaign coming down the escalators that he was going to get rid of those Mexican rapists.
‘He banned Muslims because they are Muslims. He said about the poor boys last time he was on stage, he told them to stand down and stand ready,’ Biden said.
Biden misstated the name of the group, Proud Boys.
Jones has angered liberals in years past by praising Trump for his moves toward enacting criminal justice reform.
It has also been reported that Jones secretly advised Trump administration officials on crafting an executive order that aims to reform police departments.