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Rep. Clay On President Trump: Racism Is 'Deep In His DNA'08:04
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In this Jan. 18, 2015, file photo, U.S. Rep. William Lacy Clay, D-Mo., speaks during a church service at Wellspring Church in Ferguson, Mo. (Jeff Roberson, File/AP)
In this Jan. 18, 2015, file photo, U.S. Rep. William Lacy Clay, D-Mo., speaks during a church service at Wellspring Church in Ferguson, Mo. (Jeff Roberson, File/AP)

The president of the United States of America continued his racist bashing of four Democratic congresswomen of color — Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass. — on Tuesday.

In tweets, he called them "anti-USA, pro-terrorist," and added, "If you hate our Country, or if you are not happy here, you can leave!"

Until the President lashed out on Sunday, the story had been the damaging feud between Democrats, with those same Congresswomen accusing some of their fellow Democrats — including African Americans and Native Americas — of supporting systemic racism by voting for an emergency border aid package. Even in the drinking-from-the-firehose feel that American politics has had for the past couple of years, this, again, feels like one of those moments where we have to talk about who we really are, and what kind of nation we want to be.

In order to do so, On Point welcomed Rep. William Lacy Clay, Democratic congressman for Missouri's 1st District, on the show.

Rep. Clay says "there's no place in American politics" for President Trump's comments, but also adds that he thinks the four congresswomen "have to be guided back to reality."

"I consider them all to be talented, young members that are essential to our caucus," he told On Point's Meghna Chakrabarti. "But sometimes they have to be schooled."

Interview Highlights

On the President’s tweets

"First of all, President Trump is a racist. It’s deep in his DNA. He's always embraced hate and division. First, for profits, and then for votes. And now, he's facing a reelection with a shrinking base. And he needs to stoke the fires of hate to bring out his vote, and that's hateful. That's un-American. And he and his Republican enablers should be ashamed. And, today, I will join with Speaker Pelosi and House Democrats to hold him accountable.

"These were duly elected members of Congress that he was referencing, who were elected by the majority of voters in each of their districts. They happen to be qualified citizens and Americans. And so he's wrong. He's off-base, and there's no place in American politics for that kind of discourse."

On feeling united within his Democratic caucus

"I think that we have a united caucus, in being led by an excellent team of leaders, starting with Speaker Pelosi, and the entire leadership team. And as long as we stay united, as Speaker Pelosi said, that will signify our strength, and we have to remain united in order to remain in the majority. And when you look at this government today, we are only one wing of a branch that Democrats control, and we have to work towards maintaining their control in the House, as well as looking at winning the Senate and the presidency."

"These were duly elected members of Congress that he was referencing, who were elected by the majority of voters in each of their districts. They happen to be qualified citizens and Americans. And so he's wrong."

Rep. Lacy Clay, D-Mo.

On criticisms of the first-year congresswomen referred to as the "squad"

“I have nothing against any member of the House freshman class. In fact, I’ve worked with them, to co-sponsor legislation, and to help them with their priorities. ... And they have to understand that throwing a tantrum, and using the word 'racism' loosely is an insult to generations of brave people who have faced the full evils of racism, and sacrificed so much to overcome it. And the events since Friday have proven me correct. When you don't get your way on a bill, you don't accuse our leadership of racism, especially when we have the 'racist-in-chief' in the White House."

"When you don't get your way on a bill, you don't accuse our leadership of racism, especially when we have the 'racist-in-chief' in the White House."

Rep. Lacy Clay

On how we can better talk about this moment in American history

"First of all, the almost complete lack of criticism from congressional Republicans is astonishing. And they will have to go on record today, when we vote on this resolution. I don't think they any longer have a moral compass, and they are complicit in the horrible damage that Donald Trump is inflicting on our democracy. But, when we talk about this moment in American history, I would hope that this moment will evoke a frank and honest national conversation that moves the collective conscience of this nation to grapple with race and racism in our society. And [the] corrosive and debilitating impact it has had on people of color throughout our nation's history, and calls us to work for improving race relations as a compassionate people, while, at the same time, rejecting the hate espoused by this president, and a small minority of Americans."

Sydney Wertheim also produced this interview for the web.

Related:

Meghna Chakrabarti Twitter Host, On Point
Meghna Chakrabarti is the host of On Point.

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Alex Schroeder Twitter Digital Producer, On Point
Alex Schroeder is a digital producer for On Point.

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