White House senior adviser Jared Kushner denied any accusations of racism against President Donald Trump, but stumbled when faced with questions about his father-in-law’s push for birtherism and the Muslim ban.
In an interview with Axios’ Jonathan Swan, Kushner vehemently defended Trump against charges by some Democrats, specifically Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), that the president is a racist. Trump’s former personal fixer, Michael Cohen, also recently called the president a racist.
“You can’t not be a racist for 69 years and then run for president and be a racist,” the senior adviser told Swan. “And what I’ll say is, when a lot of the Democrats call the president a racist, I think they’re doing a disservice to people who suffer from real racism in this country.”
When asked if Kushner thought Trump’s so-called birther conspiracy theory was racist, he repeatedly said, “Look, I wasn’t really involved in that.”
Trump built his political career by peddling the debunked racist birther hoax that questioned former President Barack Obama’s U.S. citizenship. Obama was born in Hawaii.
NEW YORK, NY – JUNE 16: (L-R) Eric Trump, Lara Yunaska Trump, Donald Trump, Barron Trump, Melania Trump, Vanessa Haydon Trump, Kai Madison Trump, Donald Trump Jr., Donald John Trump III, Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner, and Tiffany Trump pose for photos on stage after Donald Trump announced his candidacy for the U.S. presidency at Trump Tower on June 16, 2015 in New York City. Trump is the 12th Republican who has announced running for the White House. (Photo by Christopher Gregory/Getty Images)
American real estate developer and presidential candidate Donald Trump (center) greets family members on stage during the Republican National Convention at Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, Ohio, July 21, 2016. Pictured are, from left, daughter Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, Trump, his wife, Melania, and son, Barron. (Photo by David Hume Kennerly/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, NH – NOVEMBER 07: Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump (C) is joined on stage by his family (L-R) Lara Yunaska, Eric Trump, Vannessa Trump, Donald Trump Jr., vice presidential candidate Mike Pence, Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner and Tiffany Trump during a campaign rally at the SNHU Arena November 7, 2016 in Manchester, New Hampshire. With less than 24 hours until Election Day in the United States, Trump and his opponent, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, are campaigning in key battleground states that each must win to take the White House. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC – JANUARY 20: President Donald Trump shakes hands with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y, as he is joined by the Congressional leadership and his family while he formally signs his cabinet nominations into law, in the President’s Room of the Senate, at the Capitol in Washington, January 20, 2017. From left are Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y, Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., Vice President Mike Pence and his wife Karen Pence, Jared Kushner, Donald Trump Jr., and Ivanka Trump. (Photo by J. Scott Applewhite – Pool/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC – JANUARY 23: Director of the National Economic Council Gary Cohn (L) and Senior Advisor Jared Kushner (R) listen to U.S. President Donald Trump deliver opening remarks during a meeting with business leaders in the Roosevelt Room at the White House January 23, 2017 in Washington, DC. Business leaders included Elon Musk of SpaceX, Mark Sutton of International Paper, Andrew Liveris of Dow Chemical, Mario Longhi of US Steel, Marillyn Hewson of Lockheed Martin, Wendell Weeks of Corning, Alex Gorsky of Johnson Johnson, Michael Dell of Dell Technologies and others. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Kushner also avoided answering the question of whether he thought Trump’s campaigning on a Muslim ban was an example of the president’s religious bigotry, saying: “I think the president did his campaign the way he did his campaign.”
The final version of Trump’s executive order, which was upheld by the Supreme Court last year, banned citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries, as well as citizens from North Korea and Venezuela, from entering the United States. State Department data released in February showed that more than 37,000 visa applications were rejected last year due to the travel ban.
- This article originally appeared on HuffPost.