Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) told NBC Sunday that he had no regrets about calling President Trump the “grand wizard of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue” in a speech last week.
“We have a hater in the White House. Birther-in-chief,” Rep. Jeffries said in his speech last Monday. “The Grand Wizard of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, one of the things that we’ve learned, is that while Jim Crow may be dead he’s still got some nieces and nephews that are alive and well.”
Later in the week, Jeffries, the House Democratic Caucus chairman, clarified that he does not believe the president is “a card-carrying member” of the Ku Klux Klan. He also emphasized that he did not even say President Trump was a racist.
"I did not use the word racist in any of my comments," he said Wednesday. "In fact, Wolf Blitzer in the past has asked me whether I believe the president is a racist, and I've consistently said no. I did use a colorful phrase, but of course I don't believe that the president is a card-carrying member of the KKK. But it did capture a troubling pattern of racially insensitive and outrageous, at times, behavior that spans not months, not years, but decades."
NBC’s Chuck Todd asked Jeffries once again about his use of a KKK title in reference to President Trump Sunday and Jeffries said he didn’t regret his use of the “colorful” term.
“Why should the president negotiate with you if you’re going to name call him?” Todd asked, adding that “I know he name calls.”
"It's colorful language," Jeffries said, "I think the president is going to have to own his pattern of behavior that has taken place, not year after year but decade after decade."
He did say that it was important to move forward and pointed to his work with the Trump administration on criminal justice reform as a positive thing.
"Do you regret your language?" He asked.
"I don't regret the use of the language," he replied. "I think we need to move forward."
"America is a great country: we have come a long way on the question of race," he emphasized. "We still have a long way to go at the end of the day. We're a nation of immigrants. Some voluntary, others involuntary. I think it was Dr. King who said, we all came on the same — different ships but we're in the same boat right now. I think that's the way to proceed."