White House acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney on Sunday insisted that Donald Trump's smears on non-white members of Congress have nothing to do with their race.
In an interview on Fox News, host Chris Wallace challenged Mulvaney on the president's recent assertion that Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) represented a rat-infested district where no one would want to live.
"In fact median household income in the district is in the upper half nationally and Columbia, Maryland, which is part of the district, has been called the safest city in America. So what is the president talking about?"
"I think Maryland on a per capita basis the richest state in America yet you still see pictures on the internet of complete poverty in Baltimore, Maryland," Mulvaney said, adding that Trump attacked Cummings because of his "illegitimate" remarks about the border.
Wallace brought the conversation back to Trump's attacks on members of "The Squad," four congresswomen who have been critical of Trump.
"Nobody objects to the president defending his border policy but this seems to be the worst kind of racial stereotype," Wallace said. "Racial stereotyping. Black congressman, majority black district. I mean, no human being would want to live there? Is he saying the people who live in Baltimore are not human beings?"
Mulvaney argued that Trump should not be called a racist for attacking members of The Squad because House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has also had disagreements with them.
"You say it has zero to do with race," Wallace pressed. "There is a clear pattern here."
Wallace reminded Mulvaney that Trump had attacked Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) and his "crime-infested" district before his inauguration.
"Then, two weeks ago he goes after these four members of 'The Squad,' all women of color, and says they should go back to the crime-infested countries from which they come," Wallace continued. "Then he talks about Elijah Cummings and he says his district is rat- and rodent-infested. It sounds like vermin. It sounds subhuman and these are all six members of Congress for People of Color."
"I think you’re spending way too much time reading between the lines," Mulvaney replied.
"I’m not reading between the lines, I’m reading the lines," Wallace shot back.