CNN anchor Don Lemon has claimed that Donald Trump once told him he was racist.
Lemon made the claim on-air during The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer. He said that Trump accused him of racism during an interview in 2011.
“The last time I interviewed Donald Trump, before he ran for office, was the night that Osama Bin Laden was killed,” Lemon said, adding that he and Trump had “a row about the birther issue.”
Trump maintained for years that President Barack Obama was not born in the United States, despite zero evidence to support his claims. He offered a non-apology during a press conference in September 2016, where he instead falsely claimed that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton started the birther conspiracy during her 2008 presidential campaign.
Last year, the New York Times claimed that Trump had once again been questioning whether President Obama was born in the United States.
Lemon apparently challenged Trump on his beliefs during their 2011 interview.
“He had vowed that he would never do an interview with me because he said I was racist, because I challenged him on an in-factual statement, a lie,” Lemon said. “[He said] that I was racist because of the way that I challenged him. Much in the way that he thought that I can’t be unbiased about an issue concerning race, like Judge [Gonzalo] Curiel, because I’m African-American. So he accused me of being racist.”
It’s a surprising accusation from Trump, even seven years ago, given his own actions and statements have been perceived as sufficiently racist to justify multiple lists documenting his racism — and even a Wikipedia page dedicated to his “racial views.”
Examples include: Trump being sued in 1973 after trying to avoid renting apartments to African-Americans; his leading role in the birther movement; his retweeting of white supremacists; last year calling those who marched alongside white supremacists “very fine people”; referring to a Hispanic Miss Universe winner as “Miss Housekeeping;”; referring to Mexican immigrants as “rapists”; and angrily shouting about immigrants from “shithole countries.”
Trump recently attacked Lemon on Twitter after the CNN anchor interviewed NBA star LeBron James. Lemon asked James what he would say to Trump if he were sitting across from him.
“I would never sit across from him,” James responded, adding, “I’d sit across from Barack though.”
Trump, ever the fragile ego, lashed out on Twitter: “Lebron James was just interviewed by the dumbest man on television, Don Lemon. He made Lebron look smart, which isn’t easy to do.”
Lebron James was just interviewed by the dumbest man on television, Don Lemon. He made Lebron look smart, which isn’t easy to do. I like Mike!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 4, 2018
Lemon clapped back in an incredible 9-minute segment on CNN Tonight, deconstructing Trump’s various attacks on people of color and women.
He also referenced Trump’s attacks on his and James’ intelligence, noting that “referring to African-Americans as dumb is one of the oldest canards of racism in this country.”
Watch the full segment below:
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