Transcript for Rep. John Lewis calls Trump 'a racist' for his 's---hole countries' comment
This week was supposed to be a fresh start for president trump. To combat the fallout from the explosive book, "Fire and fury" he called cameras into the white house to watch him negotiate an immigration deal with a bipartisan group of legislators. It was an extraordinary moment. And it seemed to work. Until Thursday. Another immigration meeting. This one behind closed doors in the oval office. Where the president repeated that pro fancy when discussing immigration from Africa and Haiti. Stunning remarks that put a lingering question in stark relief. Is president trump a racist? Today, we celebrate Dr. King for standing up for the self-evident truth Americans hold so dear, that no matter what the color of our skin or the place of our birth, we are all created equal by god. President trump at the white house on Friday, praising martin Luther king like so many presidents before. Then came the questions. Mr. President, will you give an apology for the statement yesterday? Mr. President, are you a racist? Will you respond to these serious questions about your statement, sir? Questions about the vulgar and racist slur he used when discussing immigration from Africa and Haiti. It happened on Thursday. The president was frustrate bid a bipartisan plan that would scale back the Visa lotter E roory program. The president asked those in the room why day would want people from Haiti, Africa, and other expletive countries coming into the United States? Instead he suggested the U.S. Should bring the more people from European countries like Norway. The white house didn't deny the statement. The next day, trump tweeted. Lindsey graham said he countered the president's comments in the moment. Richard Durbin said trump could not have been more clear. He used the vile and vulgar comments calling the nations they come from . The exact word used by the president. Not once but repeatedly. That was the nature of the conversation. I'm sorry, there is no other word one can use but racist. Reporter: Condemnation from Haiti, El Salvador. And the meeting of the African ambassadors,alled on trump to apologize. Questions about trump and race have dogged him for decades. In 1973, the use disdepartment pseudohim and his father for discriminating against black persons in the operation of their buildings. The case was settled. In 1989, te campaign against the central park five. He placed full page ads in four New York newspapers. I want to hate these muggers and murderers. They should be forced to suffer and when day kill, they should be executed for their crimes. Trump promoted the birther movement against president Obama. When he prepared to run for president. Of course there's a question. Was there a birth certificate? You tell me. Some people say it wasn't his birth certificate. Maybe it was, maybe it wasn't. Reporter: A blast against Mexican immigrants. They're brinking drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists. And some, I assume are good people. Reporter: A Mexican American judge. There's a hostile till toward me by the judge. Beyond belief. I believe he happens to be Spanish, which is fine. Reporter: And as president, those inflammatory comments after a white supremacist rally in charlottesville. You also had people that were very fine people. On both sides. Let's bring in congressman John Lewis from Georgia. A leader in the civil rights movement who marched side by side with Dr. King more than 50 years ago. Let me start by asking you, how do you square the president's speech about martin Luther king on Friday with the comments he made behind closed doors on Thursday? George, I don't think there's any way that you can square what the president said with the words of martin Luther king Jr. And what he said about Dr. King. It's impossible. There's not any way you can do that. It's unreal. It's unbelievable. It makes me sad. It make me cry. As a nation and as a people, we have come so tar. We have made so much progress. Here in Georgia, when I visit schools, element we school students, middle school students. They're black. They're white. They're Latino, asian-american, native American. They look like the dream and act like the dream of Dr. Martin Luther king Jr. We have come so far. Made so much progress. And think this man, this president, is taking us back to another place. Do you think president trump is a racist? I think he is a racist? How do you explain it? And what do we do about snit. We have to stand up. We have to speak up. And not try to sweep it turned rug. And what does that mean? I have heard that many of you in congress, Democrats in congress are going the try to bring forward a motion to censure the president? I tell you, as a member of the house, when that resolution comes up, I'll be one of the people to speak up and speak out. We must do it. We must educate our children and generations yet unborne. You'll not be in attendance at the state of thedownon at the end of the month? In good conscience,ky not and will not sit there and listen at him as he gives the state of the union address. The president is up and tweeting this morning. Of course, this all came up in the context of negotiations of immigration reform. And how to protect the d.r.e.a.m.ers. The young people here under DACA. The president is tweeting this morning, DACA is probably dead because the Democrats don't really want it. They want to you can that and take disparately needed money away from our military. Are you worried that the young people in the DACA program will pay the price? And tt Democrats will be blamed for snit. We must take care of these young people. We must take care of these young people who know America as their country. As their only country they know. It's not fair. It's not right. And it's not just to do otherwise. But it seems like we're much farther away from a deal right now. We must not give up. Or give in. We must continue to press on. And get a deal. Are you going to demand that this dac ax protection be included before you'll approve any extension of government funding? Well, I, for one, will not vote for government funding until we get a deal on DACA. So it does increase the chances of a government shutdown this week. Finally, congressman, this is martin Luther king weekend. We honor his memory tomorrow. What do you believe that martin Luther king would be preaching this Sunday if he were still alive? If Dr. Martin Luther king Jr. Were still alive, he would be speaking the idea that we're one people. We're one family. We all live in the same house. Not just American house, or the world house. We must learn to live together as brother and sisters. If not, we will perish as fools. Congressman Lewis, thank you for your time this morning.
This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.