Pence staffer claims Trump can’t be racist because he hired Elaine Chao

Another attempt to spin and defend the president's racism.

Pence's chief of staff claims Trump isn't racist because he has an Asian Cabinet member
Pence's chief of staff claims Trump isn't racist because he has an Asian Cabinet member. (Photo Credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Marc Short, chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence, told Fox Business on Monday that President Donald Trump can’t be racist because his current transportation secretary is an Asian immigrant.

The comments were the latest attempt by the White House to try and defend Trump’s racist attacks on several congresswomen of color over the weekend.

Short said that one of his “greatest experiences” was attending a recent naturalization ceremony that Pence oversaw. “And that day, he was joined by a Cabinet member in this administration who came to the United States as a child, unable to speak English, learned English, and eventually became a naturalized citizen,” he explained. “She is an Asian American, Elaine Chao, serving in the Cabinet of the Trump administration.”

Chao’s Cabinet role, Short explained, was proof Trump couldn’t possibly be racist.

“So when people write the president has racist motives here, look at the reality of who is actually serving in Donald Trump’s Cabinet,” he said.


The vast majority of Trump’s Cabinet members are white men; Chao and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson are the two notable exceptions.

Short then claimed Trump was right to criticize Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) over the weekend. “He is making a point about a great frustration a lot of people feel that … it’s hard to find anything Ilhan Omar has actually said since [being] elected to Congress that has been positive about the United States of America,” he said.

Trump on Sunday posted a series of tweets aimed at Omar, as well as Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), and Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), claiming the congresswomen “originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world.” He then suggested they “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came,” a common racist trope.


Three of those congresswomen were born in the United States. Omar immigrated to the United States from Somalia as a child.

Short’s spin follows similar attempts by Trump’s 2020 campaign to downplay the president’s tweets. Matt Wolking, deputy communications director for the campaign, insisted Trump wasn’t telling the women to go back to where they came from because the president had also said they should “then come back and show us how it is done.”

Wolking was roundly criticized across social media for the claim.

Even as his surrogates and administration attempt to do damage control, Trump has doubled down, continuing to attack the group of Democratic women and claiming “many people are angry at them & their horrible & disgusting actions!”


“When will the Radical Left Congresswomen apologize to our Country, the people of Israel and even to the Office of the President, for the foul language they have used, and the terrible things they have said,” he tweeted Monday morning. “…If Democrats want to unite around the foul language & racist hatred spewed from the mouths and actions of these very unpopular & unrepresentative Congresswomen, it will be interesting to see how it plays out.”

The president also attempted to paint the four women as racist over comments some of them have made about Israel.

Trump also quoted Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) at length, in a separate series of tweets.

Earlier Monday morning, Graham had spoken with Fox & Friends about the Democratic lawmakers, calling them “Communists” that “hate Israel” and “hate our own country.” He described them as anti-Semitic three different times as well as “Anti-America.”

Trump included all of those remarks in his tweets.

Need I say more?” he added.