On Friday, President Donald Trump was asked again about his racist remarks aimed at four minority congresswomen. He again doubled down.
“I’m unhappy with the fact that a congresswoman, in this case a different congresswoman, can call our country and our people ‘garbage,’ ” Trump said, falsely asserting that Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-New York, called Americans “garbage.”
But with Trump, there’s always a tweet.
“If we don’t clean up OUR COUNTRY of the garbage soon, we are just going to do a death spiral!” Trump tweeted Sept. 17, 2013, one day after a government contractor killed 12 people at the Washington Navy Yard.
That Trump’s latest controversy again centers on a paradox — in this case, defending the right to criticize the United States, but only when it suits him — is not surprising. Indeed, much of Trump’s presidency is a paradox, and this week was no different.
Trump has spent years criticizing the United States, often praising foreign dictators and himself in the process.
According to Trump, the United States has long had “stupid” leaders that the world “laughs” at. When Trump launched his presidential bid, he said the United States is “becoming a third-world country.” During his inauguration, Trump condemned the condition of the country, referring to it as “American carnage.”
Trump has also repeatedly questioned the idea of American exceptionalism.
“Other nations and other countries don’t want to hear about American exceptionalism,” Trump said on Fox News in September 2013. “They’re insulted by it, and that’s what [Russian President Vladimir] Putin was saying.”
In his book “Crippled America,” Trump wrote, “The idea of American Greatness, of our country as the leader of the free and unfree world, has vanished.”
Told in 2017 that Putin is a “killer,” Trump said, “You think our country’s so innocent?”
Trump’s hypocrisy has also spread to Republicans who previously warned that he would “destroy” the party.
Asked about Trump’s racist remarks this week, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, said they were not racist.
“[A] Somali refugee embracing Trump would not have been asked to go back,” Graham said. “If you’re a racist, you want everybody from Somalia to go back.”
Graham later tweeted that accusations of racism “comes with the territory” of being a Republican president. (In 2015, Graham himself called Trump a “race-baiting, xenophobic, religious bigot.”)
Later on Friday, when Trump was asked for the 26th time whether he disavowed his racist remarks and supported the congresswomen’s First Amendment rights to criticize the United States, he pivoted instead to his own First Amendment rights.
“They have First Amendment rights, but that doesn’t mean I’m happy about [what they are] saying,” Trump said. “And again, we have First Amendment rights also. We can certainly feel what and say what we want.”
JM Rieger is the video editor for The Fix, covering national politics.