Former Obama White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett said Monday that President Donald Trump’s repeated racist attacks against political opponents who are also people of color “are intended to silence us in obedience.”
On Friday, Jarrett joined nearly 150 African-Americans who worked in the Obama administration in writing an op-ed published in The Washington Post to support four Democratic congresswomen Trump targeted earlier this month with racist language, telling them “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.” Three of the four were born in the US, and the fourth is a naturalized US citizen.
“What we said in this letter is we’re not going to be sitting idly by. We’re Americans, we’re patriotic, we love our country,” Jarret said in an interview on CNN with “New Day” co-anchor Alisyn Camerota. “One of the important ways that you demonstrate that love is by speaking up when you see behavior that you think is divisive and destructive to our country, and that’s what we’ve been observing during the course of President Trump’s time in office.”
Over the past few days, Trump continued his attacks against notable people of color by tweeting against both Rep. Elijah Cummings and Rev. Al Sharpton. The President notably called Baltimore, which Cummings represents, a “disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess.” Jarrett also the noted the correlation between those who criticize the President and those who become targets of his attacks.
“It’s this pattern, anyone who speaks up against the President is fair game for this personal criticism and anger, and that’s not what makes our country strong,” Jarrett said.
Former President Barack Obama tweeted out his support of the op-ed in a rare response to the rhetoric from the Trump administration. When asked about his infrequent responses, Jarrett noted that he would “have to speak out every single day” and also said he’s focused on lifting up the voices of others.
“It’s not just enough to hear from President Obama,” Jarrett said. “We need every single American who cares about our country and who is concerned about this direction that we’re going to participate and get involved and vote, and encourage other people to do so. That’s what it means to be a part of a democracy.”