This has been another rough month for Donald Trump. Not long ago, he was under fire for referring to countries like Haiti and El Salvador as "sh*thole countries." Now, he's been accused of what many are calling another racist act. Trump reportedly uses a fake "accent" to imitate Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Senior administration officials told the Washington Post that Trump “has been known to affect an Indian accent” to imitate Modi, whom he once referred to as a "true friend."
While the White House hasn't confirmed these reports, the accusation isn't totally out of line with something Trump would do. At a campaign rally in 2016, he imitated an Indian man who worked at a call center. At another rally he used broken English when imitating Chinese negotiators. And following Hurricane Irma's devastation in Puerto Rico, the president used an exaggerated Spanish accent when pronouncing "Puerto Rico," eliciting a laugh from the audience, during his speech for Hispanic Heritage Month.
Trump's alleged imitation of Modi was revealed in a story about the United States military involvement in Afghanistan. The president quoted something the prime minister told him during his visit to the White House in 2017. “Never has a country given so much away for so little in return,” Modi reportedly told Trump, referencing American troops in Afghanistan.
According to officials, Trump saw Modi's comment as "proof that the rest of the world viewed the United States as being duped and taken advantage of in Afghanistan.” Regardless, the United States is gearing up to send up to 1,000 troops to Afghanistan in the spring of 2018.
Whether or not the president is racist has been a heated debate since the beginning of his candidacy. In the past month, Trump has said several racially insensitive remarks, including that Haitians "all have AIDs" and that Nigerians "live in huts." At the time, the White House adamantly denied these claims. "All other senior staff actually in the meeting deny these outrageous claims," press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told The New York Times. "It's both sad and telling The New York Times would print the lies of their anonymous ‘sources' anyway."
However, the White House nor Trump denied the claims about the "sh*thole countries" comment, and they have yet to respond to the accusation that he imitated Modi. But, Trump reportedly isn't worried that his comments will turn off his base. In fact, he believes they will gain him more power among his base, according to CNN.
“It is impossible to live your life under the microscope of the presidency and not have your true nature revealed,” New York Times columnist Charles Blow told Don Lemon on his CNN show, "and what we are seeing is [that Trump] continuously over and over reveals the true nature of himself, and what makes me doubly sure that it is who he is is that he has never once apologized for it, he’s never repented, he’s never asked for absolution, in fact, the exact opposite is true, he’s doubled down and defended it.”
Many have expressed outrage about Trump allegedly imitating Modi. MSNBC correspondent Joy Reid tweeted that Trump shouldn't be involved in any immigration deals moving forward, given his track record of making racist remarks. "This guy doesn’t need to play ANY ROLE in an immigration deal," she wrote. "Just pass something, non-crazy Senators, pressure Paul Ryan to waive the Hastert rule (ugh please change the name!) and put it on Trump’s desk with a bowl of ice cream."
Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi tweeted that he was "appalled" after reading the report. "In the wake of the President's recent comments disparaging entire regions of the world while we still face such division at home, behavior that belittles our allies and 'otherizes' entire communities of Americans is one of the last things we need," he wrote in a statement. "Americans are not defined by their accents, but by their commitment to this nation’s values and ideals."