President Trump says he has 'never used racist remarks'

WASHINGTON — At Wednesday’s White House press conference, Yahoo News asked President Trump about accusations made by three individuals that he has made racist comments about African-Americans. Trump angrily denied those claims and said he has “never used racist remarks.”

“No. I would never do that, and I don’t use racist remarks and, you know what? If I did, you people, you would have known about it,” Trump said.

Trump went on to note that there have long been rumors about audio or video evidence of him making racist comments, and emphatically reiterated his denial.

“I’ve been hearing there are tapes for years and years,” Trump said. “Number one, I never worried about it because I never did. I never used racist remarks. I have never used racist remarks.”

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President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference in the East Room of the White House, Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
Periodistas levantan la mano para hacer una pregunta durante una conferencia de prensa con el presidente Donald Trump en la Sala Este de la Casa Blanca el miércoles 7 de noviembre de 2018 en Washington. (AP Foto/Evan Vucci)
As President Donald Trump points to CNN's Jim Acosta, a White House aide takes the microphone from him during a news conference in the East Room of the White House, Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
US President Donald Trump (R) gets into a heated exchange with CNN chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta (C) as NBC correspondent Peter Alexander (L) looks on during a post-election press conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC on November 7, 2018. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 07: White House television correspondents report after U.S. President Donald Trump gave a press conference a day after the midterm elections on November 7, 2018 in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC. Republicans kept the Senate majority but lost control of the House to the Democrats. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump speaks during a post-election press conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC on November 7, 2018. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump speaks during a post-election press conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC on November 7, 2018. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump speaks during a post-election press conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC on November 7, 2018. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
CNN chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta is seen before the start of a press conference by US President Donald Trump in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC on November 7, 2018. - The White House on November 7, 2018, suspended the press pass of a CNN reporter who earlier sparred with Donald Trump at a news conference, in which the US president branded the journalist an 'enemy of the people.' (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders attends a news conference held by U.S. President Donald Trump following Tuesday's midterm U.S. congressional elections at the White House in Washington, U.S., November 7, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump points at American Urban Radio Network White House correspondent April Ryan (R) during a news conference following Tuesday's midterm congressional elections at the White House in Washington, U.S., November 7, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders listens during a news conference with President Donald Trump in the East Room of the White House, Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
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Earlier this month, the president’s former attorney, Michael Cohen, told Vanity Fair that the president had repeatedly used racist language in his presence, including an alleged 2016 exchange during which Trump said that black people were “too stupid to vote for me.”

At Wednesday’s press conference, Trump dismissed Cohen’s claims.

“That’s false,” he said.

Yahoo News then asked the president about allegations made by former political aide Omarosa Manigault Newman that she had heard a tape of him using the N-word. Manigault Newman’s comments came after persistent rumors there were recordings of Trump using racist language on the set of his reality show, “The Apprentice.” Manigault Newman was a regular on the show before joining the White House staff.

“That’s false,” Trump said of Manigault Newman’s remarks.

Both Cohen and Manigault Newman were close allies of the president who eventually became critics. Cohen’s shift came as he pleaded guilty in August to charges tied to campaign finance violations and tax fraud. Manigault Newman emerged as a vocal opponent of Trump’s after she left the White House staff in late 2017. She went on to publish a tell-all book filled with unflattering comments about Trump. After they turned critical of his leadership, the president began questioning the credibility of both Cohen and Manigault Newman.

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NEW YORK, NY - MAY 16: Donald Trump (L) and Lil Jon attend 'All Star Celebrity Apprentice' Red Carpet Event at Trump Tower on May 16, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 20: Donald Trump and Shawn Johnson attend 'Celebrity Apprentice' Red Carpet Event at Trump Tower on January 20, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Rob Kim/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 12: Donald Trump (C), his sons Eric F. Trump, Donald Trump Jr. and Season 13 contestants attend the 'Celebrity Apprentice All Stars' Season 13 Press Conference at Jack Studios on October 12, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 03: (L-R) TV personalities Johnny Damon, Brandi Glanville, Donald Trump and Ian Ziering attend a 'Celebrity Apprentice' red carpet event at Trump Tower on February 3, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 20: Donald Trump and Lorenzo Lamas attend 'Celebrity Apprentice' Red Carpet Event at Trump Tower on January 20, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Laura Cavanaugh/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 12: Businessman/host Donald Trump and castmember singer/tv personality Brett Michaels attend the 'Celebrity Apprentice All Stars' Season 13 Bus Tour at on October 12, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 22: Donald Trump, John Rich and Melania Trump attend 'The Celebrity Apprentice' Season 4 Finale at Trump SoHo on May 22, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Jim Spellman/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 16: TV host Leeza Gibbons and businessman/tv personality Donald Trump attend 'The Celebrity Apprentice' season finale at Trump Tower on February 16, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Jim Spellman/WireImage)
PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 16: (L-R top row) Geraldo Rivera, TV personality Kate Gosselin, executive producer Mark Burnett and actress Kenya Moore. (L-R bottom row) Actress Vivica A. Fox, TV personality Brandi Glanville, executive producer/host Donald Trump, actor Lorenzo Lamas, actor Ian Ziering and Tv personality Leeza Gibbons speak onstage during the 'The Celebrity Apprentice' panel discussion at the NBC/Universal portion of the 2015 Winter TCA Tour at the Langham Hotel on January 16, 2015 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 12: Castmembers actress Lisa Rinna, businessman/host Donald Trump, and singer/TV personality Brett Michaels attend the 'Celebrity Apprentice All Stars' Season 13 Bus Tour at on October 12, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 12: (L) Brande Roderick, Donald Trump Jr.,(C) Donald Trump, Eric Trump, Bret Michaels, Claudia Jordan, Gary Busey, Marilu Henner, Lil Jon, Lisa Rinna, Dee Snider, La Toya Jaskson, Stephen Baldwin, Trace Adkins, Dennis Rodman and Penn Jillette attend the 'Celebrity Apprentice All Stars' Season 13 Press Conference at Jack Studios on October 12, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Desiree Navarro/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 03: TV personalities Donald Trump and Brandi Glanville attend a 'Celebrity Apprentice' red carpet event at Trump Tower on February 3, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images)
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At the press conference, Yahoo News also asked Trump about a third accusation that he used racist language about rapper Lil’ Jon. That claim first emerged in an October 2016 Daily Beast article that said Trump called Lil’ Jon “Uncle Tom” when the rapper starred on “The Apprentice.” Trump responded to the question by saying he was unaware of Lil’ Jon.

“I don’t know who Lil’ Jon is. I really don’t,” Trump said.

Informed that Lil’ Jon was a contestant on “The Apprentice,” president appeared to recall the rapper. Trump then denied ever using racist language to refer to Lil’ Jon or anyone else.

Following the president’s denial of ever having used racist language, Yahoo News noted a factual issue related to a comment Trump made in response to another question about racial issues.

Earlier in the press conference, PBS reporter Yamiche Alcindor asked Trump whether he was “emboldening” white supremacists when he described himself as a “nationalist.” Trump accused Alcindor, who is African-American, of having asked a “racist question.” He went on to dismiss the possibility he had encouraged white nationalists and claimed he had among the highest poll numbers with African-Americans.”

After the exchange about the allegations of racist language, Yahoo News noted a “point of fact” related to Trump’s boast about his poll numbers with black voters and pointed to an October Quinnipiac survey that showed his approval rating is just 8 percent in the African-American community. The president responded by accusing this reporter of attempting to sow “division.”

“When you talk about division, it’s people like this that cause division, great division,” Trump said, adding, “Point of fact is that I never used a racist remark. That’s the point of fact.”

Prior to the questions about racial issues, Yahoo News also tried to clarify another point Trump made when he was asked about the possibility Democrats could obtain his tax returns now that they control the House. Trump has repeatedly refused to release his returns as other presidents have. He has cited an ongoing audit as reason for this. The president returned to the audit at Wednesday’s press conference, and Yahoo News noted it would not stop him from releasing the returns.

“I know it,” Trump said, “I didn’t say it prevented me. I said lawyers will tell you not to do it.”

The press conference featured several heated exchanges between Trump and White House reporters. He attacked the media as “hostile” and “fake news” while singling out individual correspondents as “rude.” Yahoo News began by telling the president it was good to have the opportunity to question him and that his engagement with the “free press” is “vital to democracy.” Trump responded by indicating he enjoys attention from the press.

“It’s called earned media,” Trump said. “It’s worth billions.”

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