POLITICS
08/30/2016 03:16 pm ET

Trump Surrogate Questions MSNBC Host’s Ancestry While Defending Racist Tweet

Pastor Mark Burns later apologized for using offensive imagery.

Mark Burns, a pastor who serves as a surrogate for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, got into a heated argument with MSNBC’s Kristen Welker on Monday over an offensive tweet about Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

The high-profile black Trump supporter had tweeted a cartoon earlier in the day that showed Clinton in blackface and had the caption: “Black Americans, THANK YOU FOR YOUR VOTES and letting me use you again..See you again in four years.”

The tweet has since been deleted.

Screenshot of deleted tweet from Donald Trump surrogate and pastor Mark Burns.
Pastor Mark Burns Twitter
Screenshot of deleted tweet from Donald Trump surrogate and pastor Mark Burns.

Burns passionately defended the tweet when Welker asked him about it. She also pressed Burns over whether he thought the cartoon would hurt Trump’s campaign.

“This is why we live in a PC environment when we think one person speaks for all,” he said. “I’m a completely separate individual. I am not Donald Trump. I am Mark Burns from the great state of South Carolina.”

Earlier this month, a NBC/Wall Street Journal poll showed that only 1 percent of black voters nationally support Trump. The nominee has attempted to court African-Americans recently, but has continued to make sweeping stereotypes about black people.

Burns seemed to criticize Welker when she asked him about Trump’s outreach to black voters. 

“You’re accusing Hillary Clinton of pandering to African-American voters — and yet Donald Trump has yet to lay out and enumerate his plans to create jobs, to deal with the crime issues that he’s talking about,” Welker told Burns. “So how can African-American voters feel as though he is validly trying to address some of their top concerns when he has not spoken directly to them and to their communities?”

“Tell me, where are your ancestors from?” Burns asked.

“I have a lot of ancestors,” the Emmy-nominated journalist responded. “Let’s just stick to the topic, though.”

In a Periscope broadcast after the interview, Burns apologized for the tweet but not for its message. 

“I regret the offensiveness of the blackface,” he said. “I still stand by what the image represents but I think that, you know, I should have used better judgment.”

Watch the full interview above.

Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S.

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