Donald Trump has a history of promoting anti-Semitic and anti-black views, and his White House has been marked by a pattern of racial insensitivity and bigotry.
On Thursday, however, a senior administration official told the Senate Judiciary Committee that Trump and his staff are “not racist” and are simply trying to understand the views of the American public.
“They’re not racist in the sense of saying, ‘I’m going to say things that I think are offensive,'” White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders said during the hearing.
“We’re just trying to get to the bottom of it and make sure we’re getting it right.”
The White House did not provide a transcript of the exchange between Sanders and Senator Charles Grassley, but she did say that Sanders was “disciplined” for making such an assertion, which has been a common tactic by Trump’s defenders.
The White Houses press office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The first meeting between the White House and the Judiciary Committee occurred in March, following an investigation into the firing of FBI Director James Comey.
In that meeting, the White Houses chief of staff, Katie Walsh, was asked to clarify the WhiteHouse’s position on Comey’s firing, and the Whitehouse’s spokesperson, Hope Hicks, explained that the White house did not believe Comey had been terminated due to his “decisions, actions, or statements that have negatively impacted the President’s ability to conduct the job of the President.”
“It was my understanding that [the White House] did not see any reason to believe that that had anything to do with the President personally firing the director of the FBI,” Grassley said at the time.
“And they did not want to get into it.”
Following Comey’s termination, the Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations held a hearing into the White’s treatment of the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, which the White attempted to defend by saying the investigation was “completely independent.”
According to the New York Times, at the hearing, White House lawyer Marc Kasowitz, a former FBI counterintelligence agent, said, “We were not involved in this investigation.
We had no knowledge of this investigation.”
The FBI director was fired following the investigation, and Trump was forced to apologize for the dismissal, saying he did not know of the inquiry before the firing.
Grassley pressed Kasowitz on why he felt the need to tell the committee that the investigation did not include the firing, noting that he had testified before the committee twice about the Comey firing.
“You were involved in the firing?
Mr. Kasowitz: I was,” Grassley replied.
“I know it was an important part of that investigation, so I would appreciate you clarifying.”
Kasowitz continued to say, “I think there’s a lot that could be clarified from what I testified, from what the committee said.
And I’m not saying that the firing itself had nothing to do, because I did.
I was the deputy director at the FBI at the very time that that investigation was going on.
And you’re not the one that’s saying that we did not do it, because we did. “
But I’m telling you, this is an important issue.
And you’re not the one that’s saying that we did not do it, because we did.
And that was a mistake.”
A White House official later told the Times that Kasowitz “misrepresented” the committee, and said Kasowitz was “relying on hearsay” when he was making his argument that the FBI was not part of the Russian investigation.
During the hearing Thursday, Kasowitz also said that “there was no effort” to “insult the people who were investigating the Russian collusion.”
Grassley asked Kasowitz if he could explain why he would not have shared information about the investigation with the White, saying that he did want to know the facts behind the firing and why Comey was fired.
Kasson replied, “The firing of the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation was done by the President of the United States in the interest of national security.
I had no involvement in that firing.”
Grassley went on to ask whether Kasowitz had shared information on Comey with the Vice President.
Kaszonot replied that he would have shared that information with the VP if he felt it was necessary.
When Grassley asked if Kasowitz could explain the reason for the firing that the vice president was not told about, Kaszonowitz replied, “[T]he firing of James Comey, by the president of the U.S. Government.
He was fired because of that.”
He continued, “He was fired in the process of investigating whether there was collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians, because that was the conclusion of that, not the President himself.
So, I think it’s important to understand how he was fired.”
After the hearing ended, Grassley said he did “not have