Jan 12, 2018, 6:47 PM ET

5 times Trump was accused of making racially tinged comments about immigrants, people of color


The current controversy over President Donald Trump’s racially tinged comments in a discussion about immigration from Haiti and African nations marks the latest in a series of comments made by the president that critics have charged are racist and inflammatory.

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Since launching his bid for the presidency in 2015, Trump has ensnared himself in controversy on several occasions over comments he’s made on everything from relations with Mexico to questioning the citizenship of America’s first black president.

Here is a look at five instances where Trump has been accused of making disparaging comments about immigrants or people of color.

1. The birther movement

Trump was a vocal supporter of the birther movement, which questioned the veracity of former President Barack Obama’s birth certificate and suggested that he was not born in the United States, which would have made him ineligible to be president.

Trump stoked that debate for years, at one point reportedly sending a private investigator to Obama’s birth state of Hawaii to search into the issue further.

Many viewed it as a racially charged attack that critics said was an attempt to undermine the first African-American president of the United States.

Trump only denounced his earlier claims in September 2016, well into the 2016 presidential campaign, acknowledging that Obama was born in the United States.

PHOTO: President Donald Trump speaks during a prison reform roundtable in the Roosevelt Room of the Washington, Thursday, Jan. 11, 2018.Carolyn Kaster/AP Photo
President Donald Trump speaks during a prison reform roundtable in the Roosevelt Room of the Washington, Thursday, Jan. 11, 2018.

2. Trump tweets about crime in 2013

Trump was an active Twitter user even two years before his presidential candidacy when he asserted a connection between crime and racial and ethnic groups, without evidence backing the claim.

"Sadly, the overwhelming amount of violent crime in our major cities is committed by blacks and hispanics-a tough subject-must be discussed," he wrote in the tweet.

In the years that followed, Trump has shared other tweets about the connections between race and crime, including a notable tweet he retweeted in November 2015 that included a picture of false statistics about the percentage of "blacks killed by blacks" and "whites killed by blacks." The image has since been removed from Twitter by the original person who posted it.

3. Kicking off his campaign

Trump made it clear that immigration reform would be a major goal of his presidential campaign by mentioning it in his announcement speech in June 2015.

Rather than specifically talking policy issues, however, he made comments about stopping Mexican people from entering the country that were widely perceived as racist.

PHOTO: Donald Trump states that he believes President Obama was born in the United States, during a campaign event with veterans at the Trump International Hotel on Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Sept. 16, 2016.Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call
Donald Trump states that he believes President Obama was born in the United States, during a campaign event with veterans at the Trump International Hotel on Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Sept. 16, 2016.

"When Mexico sends its people, they're not sending their best,” he said. “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. They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”

4. Questioning a judge

Trump raised eyebrows and prompted ire even from other Republicans in June 2016 when he said a federal judge who was presiding over a Trump University lawsuit had an "inherent conflict of interest" because the judge's family was "of Mexican heritage."

The judge in question was U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curial, who was born in Indiana.

House Speaker Paul Ryan was one of the leading Republicans who came out against the remarks, calling them the "textbook definition of a racist comment," but he stood by his endorsement of Trump.

5. Reported comments about different countries

The New York Times reported in December that Trump made disparaging comments about immigrants from certain countries during a June meeting in the Oval Office. Trump said all of the immigrants who came to the United States from Haiti "all have AIDS," and those from Nigeria would never "go back to their huts" after seeing the United States, according to the Times.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders issued a statement at the time saying all of the "senior staff actually in the meeting deny these outrageous claims and it's both sad and telling The New York Times would print the lies of their anonymous 'sources' anyway."

News - 5 times Trump was accused of making racially tinged comments about immigrants, people of color

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  • Prophet With Honor

    Racism is but one aspect of his overall bigotry. We need to look at the totality of his disdain for people and institutions he finds don't meet his "standards".

  • madad

    I don't see these things at all "racist"...politically incorrect, yes, but not racist. You can turn ANY comment into racist if you try hard enough, and you can be offended by non-PC comments if you're that sensitive, but racism is someone who puts forward the idea that a different race other than their own is inferior. I have never heard anything or any claim like that from the President. Trump is not a politician, nor is he a statesman. And that's why he got elected (besides the fact a lot of the country voted against a corrupted Clinton). It seems if you don't like someone in this country any more, you call him racist, it's a knee jerk reaction. It's also small minded.

  • sjc_1

    tRump, chaos, confusion, destruction...the anti Christ.

  • Amber

    Only 5? LOL

  • Jiba

    A president should be extremely careful controlling the mouth. Honestly, Obama did a better job on that

  • Honest Rod

    It's not just Trump, it's the people supporting and agreeing with him that make it more devastating.

  • reality25

    Trump is a Klansman posturing as a businessman. How shocking.

  • Nick

    Trump is a racist...got it.

    In other news...The sun shines, grass grows and water is wet.

  • Randy rjjd

    I guess when you have dementia you forgot what you said a day prior and that we have it all on video.

  • Stonecrusher

    Except for the 2013 comment about crime where he specifically referred to blacks and Hispanics, none of the others are about race. They are about countries or countries of origin. Racism is about the superiority/inferiority of ethnic groups, not about the country someone may come from. As Americans, we come from the United States. Neither term denotes a race any more than coming from Mexico, Haiti, Salvador, Russia, France, etc. do. The leftist MSM has so distorted the term its a wonder you aren't considered to be a racist if you disagree with your spouse.

  • Bamsterman

    The democrats want to avoid the question. Why would you want to let people from crime ridden countries immigrate here that have no skills. America is becoming a tech countries. Low skill jobs are going away. We need people that can fill the tech industry.

  • Texan9


  • Arryandan

    Remember this, Trump said the White House was a shiphole. Since most of America is not as nice as the White House, he must certainly think the remainder of America is a shiphole, too. You've been conned by the star of the Apprentice.

  • Colin Gilman


    1) Either these comments reflect a gross misunderstanding of world affairs and international relations (in which case Mr. Trump has repeated proven himself professionally unqualified to fulfill his duties as POTUS);


    2) Trump's comments demonstrate a total disregard for basic diplomacy and professional tact in which case --again-- he proves himself (beyond a shadow of a doubt) to be absolutely unqualified to be our nation's leader; And why? Mainly because the President's primary responsibility is to be our National Diplomat --which is someone who can control their tongue (NOT someone who --acting like a child-- says whatever is on his mind);


    3) These hateful (i.e. worse than "unhelpful") comments reflect a fundamentally "Racist" (aka: UNCONSTITUTIONAL) view/attitude/approach to establishing Americanism (i.e. American culture) in which case --again--We The People must conclude that he is not just UNqualified to be President but is actually a major impediment to our nation's goals (as written in the Preamble of our National Constitution);


    4) these highly flammable comments reflect an extreme "brand" of insensitivity-- in which case trump has repeatedly shown himself to be devoid of compassion and a poor role model for our nation's citizens, which -- in the most basic terms-- disqualifies him from being our national leader--based on the description of duties assigned to the Presidential Office;


    5) through these words he is deliberately attempting to sabotage our national image, our economy and way of life, in which case such actions exist as evidence for the charge of treason --(in which case impeachment may be appropriate).

    If there any logic to what he said I certainly do not see it. Thus, and in the light of all other distractions HE has created for our great nation, I call on Mr. Trump to immediately step down and resign the Presidential Office to Mr. Pence (who at least has demonstrated the decency to take civil rights and our national Constitution seriously). The standard for the Presidency is a solid knowledge of our nation's constitution (which is: The Supreme Law Of The Land).

  • LewTwo

    At some point the republican are going to have to wake up to the fact that Donald Trump is a bigger liability and than asset. It may be after they have been voted out of office.

  • Westword 70

    The only people worse than Trump, are the Republicans in Congress who cling to his coattails.
    The only cure for Trump, is impeachment, but the House won't draw up articles, and the Senate won't put him on trial. They're too busy feeding at the trough.

  • Personal

    Even if Obama had been born abroad, he was born a U.S. citizen because his mother was one who was eligible to pass that citizenship on. (The only exception would have been if SHE had been born abroad and hadn’t lived a certain number of years (I think 5) past her 14th birthday on U.S. soil.) My kids have birth certificates that say birth of a U.S. citizen abroad on them. They don’t have to be naturalized. The whole birther thing was just racist nonsense. Ted Cruz ran for President and he wasn’t born on U.S. soil, but his mother was, so he was eligible.

  • Dicazi

    Re 3.
    I've seen posters deny he ever said that.
    Even though it's on video and all over the news when he said it.
    Probably on YouTube as well.

  • kritikosman

    5 times!? There's an iceberg tip for ya!

  • snake

    Trump has successfully rode the horse of hatred, bigotry and racism all his life as have many before him. There has always been a racist vote of 20% and he will have that basic support regardless of his rapidly advancing dementia. The real tradgedy is the complicity of the cabinet officials and GOP leaders who are afraid to tell the truth in order to retain their jobs, They should be held accountable in the future for enabling the crazy old coot to bring America down to a "s...hole" country he used in his comments yesterday.

  • Sal Monela

    Okay people, how long do you think it will be before Trump uses the n word in a meeting? Just uses it in casual conversation like he did here? I'm betting it happens.

  • Puddin' Twain

    At least the Bigot-In-Chief is consistent about something.

  • Alex Ross

    Those comments are only tip of the iceberg from Trump. Going back decades, he's said worse and NOW people are noticing? SAD. Being the standard bearer for white Nationalism is how he'll be remembered. SADLY, that's how he and his supporters want it.