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GOP slams Rep. Hakeem Jeffries for calling Trump a ‘racial arsonist’

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Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, a New York Democrat.
Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, a
New York Democrat.

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  • In an effort to paint the Democratic Party as increasingly
    radical, the GOP has begun attacking a rising star in the House,
    Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York. 
  • Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna Romney
    McDaniel attacked Jeffries in a Thursday tweet accusing him of
    characterizing President Donald Trump and his administration as
    “racist.” 
  • Jeffries has pointed to Trump’s years-long promotion of the
    “birther” conspiracy and his widely condemned response to a
    deadly neo-Nazi march last year, among other actions, and called
    Trump a “racial arsonist.”  

In an effort to paint the Democratic Party as increasingly
radical, Republicans have begun attacking a rising star on the
left, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York, who was elected into a
House leadership position on Wednesday and is widely viewed as a
potential future speaker of the House.

Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel
attacked Jeffries in a
Wednesday tweet
accusing him of characterizing the president
and his administration as “racist,” and calling the Brooklyn
Democrat a “radical.” 

Jeffries has specifically said he doesn’t believe the president
is a racist, but described Trump as a “racial arsonist” who “uses
race to advance his own ends” in
an interview with CNN
last year after Trump
blamed “many sides”
for a
deadly Ku Klux Klan rally in Charlottesville
, Virginia in
August 2017.

In that interview, Jeffries said Trump “chose to
pull the sheets off and reveal himself, in terms of his tendency
to be a racial arsonist, fanning the flames of hatred,” an
apparent reference to the KKK’s white robe uniform. And he argued
that the president has a history of elevating racist sentiment,
pointing to Trump’s years-long promotion of the “racist lie” that
President Barack Obama wasn’t born in the US, known as the
“birther” conspiracy. 

McDaniel also referred to Jeffries’
April 2017 comment
that, “while Jim Crow may be dead,
he’s got some nieces and nephews that are alive and well. And a
few of them are running around 1600 Pennsylvania
Avenue.” 

And she appeared to attack comments Jeffries made on the
House floor last year, in which he
argued
that while not every Trump supporter is a racist,
“every racist in America voted for Donald Trump.” 

Jeffries, 48, was elected chairman of the House Democratic
caucus on Wednesday — the fifth most-senior leadership role in
the lower chamber — and is one of the youngest members of the
party’s new leadership team, at at time when  many in the
party are pushing for a new generation of
leaders.
 

But many progressives were pulling for Rep. Barbara Lee — a
72-year-old from California with a strong left-wing record — over
Jeffries, who ultimately beat Lee by 10 votes. 

Jeffries’ ascendance was facilitated by another New York
progressive, Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who
successfully primaried longtime incumbent Rep. Joe Crowley, who
currently occupies the post Jeffries will soon take
over. 

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