'He is not a racist': Trump campaign aide says amid 'send her back' controversy

The Trump campaign has disavowed the "send her back" chants.

July 21, 2019, 10:49 AM

Mercedes Schlapp, a Trump campaign senior adviser, defended President Donald Trump amid ongoing and escalating attacks aimed at four freshman congresswomen on Sunday.

"I have worked with President Trump for two years and he is not a racist," Schlapp, who left the White House in June to join the campaign, told ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos on ABC's "This Week."

"He is a results-oriented president who is focused on helping uplift all Americans, including blacks, including Hispanics," Schlapp added.

Communications adviser Mercedes Schlapp conducts an interview in the press briefing at the White House in Washington, Jan. 29, 2019.
Susan Walsh/AP, FILE

When confronted about the president’s seemingly shifting stance regarding a recent campaign rally crowd erupting in "send her back" chants aimed at Rep. Ilhan Omar, Schlapp said Trump "made it very clear" that he disavowed the chant, yet "stands with those people in North Carolina."

Schlapp argued that Trump distanced himself from the "send her back" chants aimed at Rep. Ilhan Omar at his campaign rally this week, and said that the president "stands with those people in North Carolina."

"The president disavowed the chant. The president made it clear that he wasn’t happy with the chant," the Trump campaign aide said.

"Hold on a second -- let me stop you there, where did the president make it clear he wasn't happy with the chant in that moment?" Stephanopoulos asked, then pointing out that there was a 13-second delay from the chants beginning and the president resuming his speech.

"He made it clear with the press conference that he had the day afterwards," Schlapp replied.

"The next day he said he wasn't happy with it," Stephanopoulos pressed. "He didn't show it in the moment."

"I mean, you all can make that analysis" Schlapp said. "And I'm sure you have been to a Trump rally. There's a lot of emotion. There's a lot going on. He continued with his speech. He made it very clear the next day he was not happy with the chant."

In the days since the rally in Greenville, North Carolina, the president has changed his tune several times. After saying he was not happy with the chants, he then doubled down on his attacks on the four congresswomen and called those in his crowd 'patriots.' Sunday he again tweeted that those congresswomen are "not capable of loving America."

The chants themselves came only days after the president launched an attack on four progressive congresswomen of color, Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass, and Omar, telling them to "go back" to the countries they came from.

Three of the representatives were born in the U.S., while as a child Omar came to the U.S. as a refugee.

Earlier Sunday morning, the president again targeted the self-proclaimed "squad" on Twitter, writing that the progressive members of color are not "capable of loving our Country."

"They should apologize to America (and Israel) for the horrible (hateful) things they have said. They are destroying the Democrat Party, but are weak & insecure people who can never destroy our great Nation!" the president wrote.

Schlapp defended the president's attacks, even when confronted about Trump criticizing America during his 2016 campaign.

"Look, they are fundamentally criticizing the United States," the Trump campaign aide said. "They are being anti-American. That to us is very concerning."

The former White House aide also took aim at the four progressive congresswomen, arguing that thanks to their politics "the Democratic Party is in disarray."

"These Democratic presidential candidates are going to have to kiss the ring of the squad because they are the new voices of the Democrat Party and that should be concerning," Schlapp said.

While the Trump campaign initially defended the rally chant, the president on Thursday told reporters in the Oval Office that he "was not happy with it" and "I disagree with it." However, Trump appeared to walked back his disavowal of the chant the next day, telling reporters when asked about the chant: "No, you know what I'm unhappy with -- the fact that a congresswoman can hate our country," the president said.

"I'm unhappy with the fact that a congresswoman can say anti-Semitic things. I'm unhappy with the fact that a congresswoman, in this case a different congresswoman, can call our country and our people 'garbage.' That's what I'm unhappy with," Trump said.

The president also argued last week that he "very quickly" started talking once the "send her back" chants started, despite letting the chant go on for about 13 seconds without saying a word. When pushed by ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl on why he didn't begin speaking sooner, the president claimed he did.

"If you would have heard, there was a tremendous amount of noise and action and everything else," he said. "I started very quickly. And I think you know that."

The president later tweeted that he "did nothing to lead people on, nor was I particularly happy with their chant." President Trump also continued to praise rally goers as "a very big and patriotic crowd. They love the USA!"

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