Higbie’s Thursday afternoon resignation, which was prompted after CNN unearthed the comments he made, comes amid increased scrutiny of the president’s appointees for racist or anti-Muslim statements made in the past.
In November, the Department of Homeland Security’s Jamie Johnson, another Trump appointee, resigned after comments he made that linked blacks to “laziness” and “promiscuity” came to light. Last week, Pete Hoekstra, the new U.S. ambassador to the Netherlands and a former Republican congressman, apologized after uproar over baseless anti-Muslim theories he had spread numerous times in past.
According to the reporting and audio clips published by CNN on Thursday, Higbie had a lengthy track record of making strongly racist and anti-Muslim statements before his appointment.
In 2013, he spoke about giving away free firewood while working in Virginia Beach on “Sound of Freedom,” an Internet talk radio show that he hosted, according to CNN. Higbie said that black women think “breeding is a form of government employment,” that blacks were “lax of morality,” and that culture “is breeding this welfare and the high percentage of people on welfare in the black race.”
On another talk show in 2013, he expressed dislike for the term “African Americans.”
“The whole African American thing gets me whipped up because it’s like 99 percent — and I’m paraphrasing here — of people who write down African American have never been to Africa,” he said.
He also spoke disparagingly of Islam, saying that he didn’t like Muslims “because their ideology sucks,” and that he was fine if his views caused him to be labeled a racist.
“I just don’t like Muslim people. People always rip me a new one for that. ‘Carl, you’re racist, you can’t, you’re sexist.’ I’m like Jesus Christ,” Higbie said on “Sound of Freedom” in 2013.
On another podcast, Warrior Talk Radio, in 2014, according to CNN, he struck a similar chord.
“I was called an Islamophobe, and I was like, ‘no, no, no, no, no, I’m not afraid of them. I don’t like them. Big difference,’ ” he said on the show. “And they were like, ‘Well, you’re racist.’ I was like, fine if that’s the definition of it, then I guess I am.’”
This is not the first round of controversy for Higbie, who worked as the spokesman for pro-Trump super PAC Great America before the 2016 election. During an appearance on Fox News shortly after the election, he cited Japanese internment camps during World War II as a “precedent” for some of the president’s potential immigration plans, and the remarks drew wide condemnation.
Nonetheless, he was appointed to the position at the CNCS, which runs AmeriCorps and other volunteering initiatives, and has programs dedicated to rebuilding after natural disasters and supporting veterans and their families, including helping them transition once they return home.
In other audio unearthed by CNN, Higbie, a former Navy SEAL, derided military veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder as having “a weak mind” and said he thought a large majority of people with PTSD were being dishonest.
“I’d say 75 percent of people with PTSD don’t actually have it, and they’re either milking something for a little extra money in disability or they’re just, they honestly are just lying,” he said on another talk radio show in 2014.
Samantha Jo Warfield, a CNCS spokeswoman, declined to comment on the circumstances of Higbie’s resignation.
Of undocumented immigrants, Higbie, on another episode of “Sound of Freedom” in 2013, said that Americans with guns should be able to shoot undocumented immigrants who attempted to cross into the United States at the border.
“What’s so wrong with wanting to put up a fence and saying, ‘Hey, everybody with a gun, if you want to go shoot people coming across our border illegally, you can do it fo’ free,’ ” Higbie said. “You cross my border, I will shoot you in the face. I will go down there. I’ll volunteer to go down there and stand on that border for, I don’t know, a week or so at a time, and that’ll be my civil duty.”
He also spoke harshly about Sen. Dianne Feinstein on “Sound of Freedom,” calling the California Democrat a “bitch” and saying he’d love to smack her and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s heads together.
“Nothing gets me going like Ted Cruz, when he went off on that Feinstein bitch about the Second Amendment. And he put her in her place; that was just fantastic. I can’t stand that woman,” Higbie said. “Her and Pelosi. I’d love to just take both their heads and smack them together a couple of times.”
During another appearance on “Sound of Freedom,” he spoke about the legalization of gay marriage in Rhode Island.
“Congratuf’in’lations, you suck, Rhode Island. Why would you do that?” he said. “I mean, you are breaking the morals, the moral fiber of our country. You know, I don’t like gay people. I just don’t.”
The White House did not respond to a request for comment.