During a news conference following the midterm elections, President Trump denied having ever used racist remarks, including calling the rapper Lil Jon an “Uncle Tom."
The question about allegations of racist statements came from Yahoo News’s White House correspondent Hunter Walker. At first, Trump denied knowing who “Little Jon” was, but then said “okay” after being reminded that the rapper had appeared on “The Apprentice.”
Here’s the exchange:
Reporter: Michael Cohen recently said you called black voters “stupid.”
Trump: That’s false.
Reporter: Omarosa has accused you of using the n-word.
Trump: That’s false.
Reporter: And the rapper Little Jon has said you called him “Uncle Tom.” What’s your response?
Trump: I don’t know who Little Jon is. I really don’t.
Reporter: He was on “The Apprentice.”
Trump: I don’t know. Oh, he was? Okay. Oh, I see.
Reporter: Have you ever made racist remarks?
Trump: No, no, I would never do that, and I don’t use racist remarks, and you know what, if I did, you people [points to all the reporters], you would have known about it. I’ve been hearing there are ["Apprentice"] tapes for years and years, there are tapes. Number one, I never worried about it because I never did. I never used racist remarks. I have never used racist remarks.
In 2016, the Daily Beast reported that three unnamed staffers on “The Apprentice” said Trump called the rapper “Uncle Tom,” apparently not fully realizing how charged of a term it was, and shrugged off advice from producers to stop using it after they explained it to him. Trump’s spokeswoman at the time, Hope Hicks, said “this is simply untrue.”
Soon after, Lil Jon himself commented, seeming to confirm that Trump called him that but adding that the reality TV host stopped once he was made aware of its meaning.
“When this ‘Uncle Tom’ incident happened on ‘Celebrity Apprentice' in the boardroom several of my castmates and I addressed Mr. Trump immediately when we heard the comment,” the rapper tweeted. “I can’t say if he knew what he was actually saying or not, but he did stop using that term once we explained it’s offensiveness.”
Lil Jon appeared on the “Celebrity Apprentice” in 2011 and again in 2013 during the “All-Star Celebrity Apprentice.”