- David Cay JohnstonPulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter previously with The New York Times, now founder and editor of DCReport.org. Johnston’s biography of Donald Trump is titled The Making of Donald Trump. His latest book is just out, titled It’s Even Worse Than You Think: What the Trump Administration Is Doing to America.
On Capitol Hill, Democrats are preparing a bill that would formally censure Donald Trump over racist comments in which the president reportedly called African nations, El Salvador and Haiti “shithole countries.” The effort is being led by New York Congressmember Jerrold Nadler and Representative Cedric Richmond, chair of the Congressional Black Caucus. It comes as several Democratic lawmakers have announced they will skip the State of the Union address on January 30 over Trump’s racist remarks. Among them are Earl Blumenauer of Oregon, Frederica Wilson of Florida, Pramila Jayapal of Washington, Maxine Waters of California and John Lewis of Georgia. We speak to David Cay Johnston, author of “It’s Even Worse Than You Think: What the Trump Administration Is Doing to America.”
More from this Interview
- Part 1: David Cay Johnston: Trump is Determined to Provoke War to Draw Focus from Racist & Erratic Behavior
- Part 2: “It’s Even Worse Than You Think”: David Cay Johnston on Trump’s First Year in Office
- Part 3: Trump Biographer: Trump is the “Most Racist” President in At Least 100 Years
- Part 4: How Trump’s Deregulatory Push Is Harming Workers, Muzzling EPA Scientists and Unleashing Pollution
- Part 5: Trump Biographer on the President’s Cognitive Decline & Whether He Will Be Impeached
AMY GOODMAN: There is now going to be a move before Congress to censure him for his comments about places like Haiti, Nigeria, Africa, being “s—hole countries.” And so, people projected onto his International Hotel, down the street from the White House, “Not a D.C. resident? Need a place to stay? Try our s—hole,” but they spelled out the word—
DAVID CAY JOHNSTON: Yes.
AMY GOODMAN: —just as Donald Trump did in his meeting with congressmembers.
DAVID CAY JOHNSTON: And, you know, this incident, this racist comment by Donald, is revealing, because you see people lying and denying about this. Senator Tom Cotton, a former military officer, who holds himself out as a paragon of virtue, has said he doesn’t remember hearing this. But we now know that he told his staff that it was “s—house” instead of “s—hole.” I’m sorry, in the military, that’s called conduct unbecoming an officer and lying and denying, both offenses that can get you thrown out with a dishonorable discharge. Shame on that senator and everyone else who is lying and denying for Trump. Be honest about who he is. If he’s doing—if you support him, then be honest about what he says.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: Well, let’s go to some of the people who have denied that Trump made this comment, among them, his son. You talked about this earlier. Eric Trump denied that his father used the phrase “s—hole,” telling Fox & Friends that he couldn’t possibly be racist, because he only sees one color: green.
ERIC TRUMP: My father sees one color: green. That’s all he cares about. He cares about the economy. Right? He does not see race. He’s the least racist person I have ever met in my entire life. It’s total nonsense.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: In separate interviews, Republican Senators David Perdue and Tom Cotton both flatly denied that Trump used the term. This is Senator Perdue speaking to ABC, followed by Face the Nation host John Dickerson questioning Senator Cotton.
SEN. DAVID PERDUE: I’m telling you he did not use that word, George. And I’m telling you, it’s a gross misrepresentation. How many times do you want me to say that?
JOHN DICKERSON: Senator, your view on this, the use of this word?
SEN. TOM COTTON: Yeah, John, I didn’t hear that word, either. I certainly didn’t hear what Senator Durbin has said repeatedly. Senator Durbin has a history of misrepresenting what happens in White House meetings, though, so perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised by that. Here’s what I did hear, and here’s the point.
JOHN DICKERSON: Just—sorry to interrupt. You didn’t hear the word, or it was not said? Because Senator Graham also told Senator Scott, your Republican colleague, that this is what happened. Senator Flake was in a subsequent meeting right afterwards, where he was told by people in the meeting this happened. So, just to button that up, you’re saying it did not happen, or you’re having—or you just don’t recall?
SEN. TOM COTTON: I didn’t hear it, and I was sitting no further way from Donald Trump than Dick Durbin was. And I know—
JOHN DICKERSON: But it—
SEN. TOM COTTON: And I know what Dick Durbin has said about Donald—or about the president’s repeated statements is incorrect.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: So, there we heard Trump’s son, Eric Trump, and then Republican Senators Cotton and Perdue. So, could you respond to that and also what you think that says about the extent to which Republicans are rallying around Trump?
DAVID CAY JOHNSTON: Right. Well, that you’re totally money-focused, which Donald is, doesn’t exclude being a racist. I mean, that’s just ridiculous. And Donald himself has, you know, described all black people in America as living in ghettos and being poor, not having an education. When he said that, I thought about my next-door neighbor, you know, a millionaire owner of two factories, who’s black. So, those things are not—Donald is the most racist person we’ve ever had in the White House, at least in the last hundred years.
But there’s something Cotton just said that’s very important there. Cotton, you noticed, did essentially what Bill Clinton did, when he was—said, you know, famously, “It depends on what your definition of 'is' is,” about did he have sex with Monica Lewinsky. He said, “I didn’t hear that word.” We know that what he told his staff was, instead of “s—hole,” he said “s—house.” Really? That’s the thread? This is—if you think what Bill Clinton did was wrong—and I do—what Tom Cotton is doing is just as bad. And this is a man who wants to be president of the United States. He’s lying. He’s denying. He’s engaging in conduct unbecoming of a member of Congress or a military officer.
AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to break and then come back to our discussion, on what has happened to the agencies that protect the land, the water, the air, the workers of this country. Stay with us.
AMY GOODMAN: That’s “Crow” by Mount Eerie, here on Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman. If you want to sign up for our daily digest newsletter, you can text the word “democracynow”—one word without a space—to 66866, and you’ll get our daily headlines and news alerts that we send out every day. I’m Amy Goodman, here with Nermeen Shaikh.