Jul 20, 2018

Rep. Jason Lewis under fire for racist remarks

Lewis in a campagin video from his election bid in 2016. Photo: jasonformn.com

CNN has unearthed additional audio from Minnesota representative Jason Lewis' radio show of the congressman saying the welfare system made blacks "addicted" to government programs, arguing it was worse for them than Jim Crow, and said that African Americans had an "entitlement mentality" which led to violence in their community, among other defamatory comments against black people.

The big picture: Lewis has faced strong criticism for these comments at home since he first ran for office, but now they're getting their turn in the national spotlight. Lewis is up for re-election this fall in a county that is currently listed as a "toss up" by Real Clear Politics.

More inflammatory comments:

  • In his book, Power Divided is Power Checked, he criticized the Supreme Court ruling on same sex marriage, and equated it to the social issue of slavery:
"How does somebody else owning a slave affect me? If I don’t think it is right, I won’t own one, and people always say ‘well if you don’t want to marry somebody of the same sex, you don’t have to, but why tell somebody else they can’t.  Uh, you know if you don’t want to own a slave, don’t. But don’t tell other people they can’t.
— Lewis in his book Power Divided is Power Checked: The Argument for States' Rights, 2011.
  • He argued in 2012 on air that dependence on the welfare state made black gatherings dangerous and prone to violence. "When there is a predominantly black festival, there's trouble," he said.
  • Bouncing off far-right pundit Colin Flaherty's book, Lewis propagated a theory that white people are "the real victims of racial violence."

All of these statements occurred before Lewis narrowly won his congressional race in 2016.

What they're saying: In a statement to CNN, his office said that bringing up old quotes was the equivalent of "an orchestrated attempt at making anyone who supports reducing... crime in minority communities, Voter ID laws and work requirements for public assistance back off their public policy positions."

Go deeper: Lewis' disparaging comments about women.

Go deeper

Pro-Trump warrior takes the helm of U.S. intelligence

Richard Grenell in Berlin. Photo: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

By picking Ambassador Richard Grenell to be acting director of national intelligence, President Trump has slotted a pro-Trump warrior into the ultimate apolitical role.

What they're saying: James Clapper, the longest-serving DNI (2010-2017), tells Axios it's "very worrisome installing a partisan with no real intelligence experience in this position."

Coronavirus kills 2 Diamond Princess passengers as Israel confirms first case

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. U.S. numbers include Americans extracted from Princess Cruise ship.

Two elderly Diamond Princess passengers have been killed by the novel coronavirus — the first deaths confirmed among the more than 600 infected aboard the cruise ship — as Israel confirmed its first case among evacuees from the ship.

The big picture: COVID-19 has now killed more than 2,200 people and infected over 76,000 others, mostly in mainland China, where the National Health Commission announced 118 new deaths since Thursday.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 53 mins ago - Health

California's "woman quota" law seems to be working

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

When California passed its boardroom law requiring public companies based there to have at least one female director, there were concerns it would spark a gold rush for the same handful of well-known women — but that hasn’t happened.

Why it matters: Of the 138 women who joined all-male California boards last year, 62% are serving on their first company board, per a study by accounting firm KPMG. That means a majority of companies aren't contributing to so-called overboarding in corporate America.