White House press secretary: If Trump were racist, why did NBC give him 'The Apprentice’?

WASHINGTON — White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said claims that President Donald Trump is a “racist” are “outrageous,” and cited the fact that NBC ran “The Apprentice” for so long.

“I think that is an outrageous claim,” Sanders told reporters on Tuesday, adding that if he was who critics said he was, “why did NBC give him a show for a decade on TV? Why did Chuck Schumer and all of his colleagues come and beg Donald Trump for money? …Why did they want to be with him for years and years, whether it was various activities and fundraisers, and other sorts of things?”

She added, “I think it is just an outrageous and ludicrous excuse and they need to get on board and start doing what they were elected to do.”

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White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders speaks during the press briefing at the White House in Washington, DC, on Octobr 30, 2017. US President Donald Trump has 'no plan or intention' to change special counsel probing possible collusion in Russia's effort to sway the 2016 presidential elections.The assurance came hours after special counsel Robert Mueller announced indictments against three Trump campaign aides, including former chairman Paul Manafort.'The president said last week and I said several times before, there is no intention or plan to make any changes in regards to the special counsel,' White House spokesman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said. / AFP PHOTO / NICHOLAS KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders delivered the press briefing in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House, on Monday, June 5, 2017. (Photo by Cheriss May/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 27: Principal Deputy White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders speaks during a White House daily briefing at the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House June 27, 2017 in Washington, DC. Huckabee Sanders stood in for Press Secretary Sean Spicer to host the daily press briefing. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders holds the daily briefing at the White House in Washington, U.S. September 12, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders (L), White House senior adviser Jared Kushner (C) and White House chief of staff John Kelly (R) look on after US President Donald Trump signed a proclamation calling for a national day of prayer on September 3 for those affected by Hurricane Harvey in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, DC, on September 1, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / NICHOLAS KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders holds a press briefing at the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., May 11, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
THE VIEW - In their first joint interview since the 2016 presidential election, Sarah Huckabee Sanders and her father, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee will appear on ABC's 'The View,' live WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 6, 2017. 'The View' airs Monday-Friday (11:00 am-12:00 pm, ET) on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Heidi Gutman/ABC via Getty Images) SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, MIKE HUCKABEE
White House deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders (L) and Thomas Homan, acting director of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE), hoold a briefing at the White House in Washington, U.S., June 28, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
Deputy White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders (L-R) holds the door for Press Secretary Sean Spicer and White House national security advisor H.R. McMaster to speak in the White House briefing room in Washington, U.S., May 16, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
White House Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders holds the daily briefing at the White House in Washington, DC, U.S. June 5, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
US Energy Secretary Rick Perry arrives to take the podium from Principal Deputy White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders at the press briefing at the White House in WQashington, DC, on June 27, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / NICHOLAS KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
(l-r), White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders looks on, while Scott Pruitt, EPA Administrator, delivered the press briefing in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House, on Monday, June 5, 2017. (Photo by Cheriss May/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
White House Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders speaks during the daily press briefing in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House in Washington, DC, May 10, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 9: White House deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders speaks to reporters outside the West Wing after President Donald J. Trump terminated FBI Director James Comey, at the White House in Washington, DC on Tuesday, May 09, 2017. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 10: Reporters and members of the media as questions as Deputy White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders speaks during the daily briefing at the White House in Washington, DC on Wednesday, May 10, 2017. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 11: White House deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, speaks during press briefing on May 11, 2017 in Washington, DC. Sanders fielded questions about President Trump's firing of FBI Director James Comey. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders holds the daily briefing at the White House in Washington, U.S., October 10, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders holds the daily briefing at the White House in Washington, U.S., October 20, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 19: White House Chief of Staff John Kelly (L) waits to speak as press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders introduces him during a White House briefing October 19, 2017 in Washington, DC. Kelly spoke about the process of the military notifying family members of a death, his own son's death Afghanistan, and the controversy surrounding the news of U.S. President Trump's phone calls to Gold Star families. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
White House Press Secretary Sarah H. Sanders takes questions during a briefing at the White House October 6, 2017 in Washington, DC. / AFP PHOTO / Brendan Smialowski (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 05: White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders answers questions during a briefing at the White House October 5, 2017 in Washington, DC. Sanders responded to a number of questions related to the recent shooting in Las Vegas, and U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Sarah Huckabee Sanders, White House press secretary, takes questions during a White House press briefing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Friday, Oct. 6, 2017. President�Donald Trump�and his spokeswoman on Friday repeatedly declined to clarify the cryptic remark�he made while posing for photos with military leaders that the gathering might represent 'the calm before the storm.' Photographer: Chris Kleponis/Bloomberg via Getty Images
White House Press Secretary Sarah H. Sanders (L) and Homeland Security Advisor Tom Bossert talk outside the White House September 11, 2017 in Washington, DC. / AFP PHOTO / Brendan Smialowski (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
THE VIEW - In their first joint interview since the 2016 presidential election, Sarah Huckabee Sanders and her father, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee will appear on ABC's 'The View,' live WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 6, 2017. 'The View' airs Monday-Friday (11:00 am-12:00 pm, ET) on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Heidi Gutman/ABC via Getty Images) SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, MIKE HUCKABEE, SUNNY HOSTIN, JEDEDIAH BILA
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders holds the daily briefing at the White House in Washington, U.S. October 18, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders speaks during the press briefing at the White House in Washington, DC, on Octobr 30, 2017. US President Donald Trump has 'no plan or intention' to change special counsel probing possible collusion in Russia's effort to sway the 2016 presidential elections.The assurance came hours after special counsel Robert Mueller announced indictments against three Trump campaign aides, including former chairman Paul Manafort.'The president said last week and I said several times before, there is no intention or plan to make any changes in regards to the special counsel,' White House spokesman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said. / AFP PHOTO / NICHOLAS KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 30: White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders answers reporters' questions during a news conference in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House October 30, 2017 in Washington, DC. Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and his ex-business partner Rick Gates turned themselves in to federal authorities Monday in relation to the special counsel's investigation into Russian influence in the 2016 election. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 30: White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders answers reporters' questions during a news conference in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House October 30, 2017 in Washington, DC. Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and his ex-business partner Rick Gates turned themselves in to federal authorities Monday in relation to the special counsel's investigation into Russian influence in the 2016 election. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
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Sanders’ latest comments underscored the fallout from reports that Trump, in a heated meeting on immigration with other lawmakers on Thursday, used the term “s—hole countries” to describe African nations. Trump was pushing back on the argument that migrants from those countries deserved protection in the U.S., and wondered why more immigrants were not coming from Norway.

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), who was at the meeting, confirmed that Trump made the comment, and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who was also there, did not deny that Trump made the remark. “I said my piece,” he said.

Trump has denied using the word “s—hole,” and two other senators who were there, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) and Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.), said he did not say it. Yet there are reports that their denial is based on Trump’s use of another word, “s—house,” instead.

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U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) questions Supreme Court nominee judge Neil Gorsuch during a Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington March 21, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua_roberts
U.S. President Donald Trump, flanked by U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), holds a bipartisan meeting with legislators on immigration reform at the White House in Washington, U.S. January 9, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) talks with journalists after voting on the US Troop Readiness, Veterans' Health And Iraq Accountability Act on Capitol Hill in Washington April 26, 2007. By a vote of 51-46, the Senate joined the House of Representatives in backing the bill that would provide about $100 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan this year while setting a deadline to withdraw U.S. forces from Iraq over the next 11 months. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas (UNITED STATES)
Democratic U.S. Senators Al Franken (L) and Dick Durbin (R) confer during a break in the questioning of U.S. Supreme Court nominee judge Neil Gorsuch on the third day of his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., March 22, 2017. REUTERS/Jim Bourg
Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), (L), shakes hands with China's Premier Li Keqiang (R) during the meeting of Representatives of the Aspen Institute at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China March 31, 2016. REUTERS/Lintao Zhang/Pool *** Local Caption *** Dick Durbin;Li Keqiang
Illinois Senator Dick Durbin speaks before U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton during a Clinton campaign stop at the Quad City Federation of Labor's Salute to Labor Chicken Fry in Hampton, Illinois September 7, 2015. REUTERS/Brian C. Frank
U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) addresses the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) Legislative Conference and Presidential Forum in Washington March 9, 2015. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS)
Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) speaks next to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) (L) at a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington February 28, 2013. Positions hardened on Wednesday between the U.S. president and Republican congressional leaders over the budget crisis even as they arranged to hold last-ditch talks to prevent harsh automatic spending cuts beginning this week. Looking resigned to the $85 billion in "sequestration" cuts starting on Friday, government agencies began reducing costs and spelling out to employees how furloughs will work. REUTERS/Larry Downing (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS BUSINESS)
Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-NV) speaks to reporters about an agreement on the payroll tax holiday on Capitol Hill in Washington December 16, 2011. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS BUSINESS)
Incoming U.S. Senate Assistant Majority leader Dick Durbin (D-IL) speaks alongside new Majority leader Harry Reid (D-NV) on Capitol Hill following their election to the positions November 14, 2006. Reid, a moderate Nevada Democrat, was elected by colleagues on Tuesday as U.S. Senate majority leader for the 110th Congress that will convene in January. REUTERS/Jason Reed (UNITED STATES)
U.S. President Donald Trump, flanked by U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), holds a bipartisan meeting with legislators on immigration reform at the White House in Washington, U.S. January 9, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
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In the fallout from the comment, the remark has been labeled as “racist,” as has Trump himself. Michael Gerson, the conservative columnist, wrote in The Washington Post on Tuesday that Trump “makes offhand racist comments, he promotes racial stereotypes, and he incites racism as a political strategy.”

Trump starred on “The Apprentice” for 14 seasons, starting in 2004. The success of the show served as a launching pad for his presidential campaign. He considered running in 2011, as he initiated an effort to question then-President Barack Obama’s citizenship on the unfounded and discredited notion that he was really born in Kenya. Gerson and other critics labeled that effort as one example of “racial demagoguery.” Trump chose not to run that year, and NBC instead renewed his association with the show.

Trump was also a prolific donor to Democrats up until that point. He gave to Schumer’s campaign as recently as 2009, according to the Federal Election Commission records, and to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

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