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

Updated 6 mins ago - Politics & Policy

U.S. enters 6th day of nationwide protests over George Floyd's killing

A protest in Philadelphia on May 31. Photo: Mark Makela/Getty Images

Local news footage captured a tanker truck appearing to drive toward protesters at a peaceful demonstration in Minneapolis, as demonstrators quickly got out of the way of the incoming vehicle on Sunday evening.

The big picture: Protests have continued across the country for six days, as demonstrators call for justice in response to the deaths of George Floyd and other other black Americans who have died in police custody or who have been killed in racist attacks.

Updated 13 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Tanker truck appears to plow into Minneapolis protesters

A tanker truck appears to have driven toward thousands of protesters during a demonstration in Minneapolis, video from the scene shows.

Details: Minnesota Department of Public Safety tweeted, "Very disturbing actions by a truck driver on I-35W, inciting a crowd of peaceful demonstrators. The truck driver was injured & taken to a hospital with non-life threatening injuries. He is under arrest. It doesn’t appear any protesters were hit by the truck."

  • The incident happened as protesters gathered at the Interstate 35W Bridge across the Mississippi River just before 6 p.m. on Sunday, per CBS Minnesota.
  • Gov. Tim Walz had "ordered highways and interstates to start closing at 5 p.m.," according to the Star Tribune.

Editor's note: This is a developing news story. Please check back for updates.

Inside Trump's antifa tweet

President Trump at Cape Canaveral on May 30. Photo: Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

As recently as Saturday night, senior administration officials told me that the designation of a violent cohort of far-left activists, antifa, as a terrorist organization was not being seriously discussed at the White House. But that was Saturday.

Behind the scenes: The situation changed dramatically a few hours later, after prominent conservative allies of the president, such as his friend media commentator Dan Bongino, publicly urged a tough response against people associated with antifa (short for "anti-fascist").