Newly Elected Republican Rep. Byron Donalds Goes Viral for CNN Exchange About Racism and Trump

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Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Byron Donalds

Freshman Republican lawmaker Byron Donalds is making headlines this week following an appearance on CNN in which his claims that Donald Trump has rejected white supremacy were met with a super-cut of the former president making inflammatory comments.

Donalds' Thursday appearance on the network came as he claimed that he was denied entry into the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) due to being a conservative.

There are currently no Republican members of the CBC, though conservatives have been included in the past.

"I have a perspective being a 42-year-old Black man who's come up in America after a lot of the battles through the civil rights movement that I think would actually be helpful and a helpful perspective to the CBC," Donalds said on CNN. "Whether they want to take advantage of that is really up to them."

In response, New Day anchor Brianna Keilar suggested that Donalds' support of Trump seems to go against the values of the CBC.

"You have defended President Trump ... you've said he's done enough to rebuff ideas of white supremacy, but I do want to listen to some of his prominent comments on the subject of race to get your perspective," Keilar said.

The network then aired a montage of Trump that included his infamous "both sides" comment (made in reference to the violent protests by white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia) and a moment during a presidential debate in which he told supporters of the supremacist group Proud Boys to "stand back and stand by."

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In response to the video, Donalds told Keilar: "Whatever the president said in the past has nothing to do with this discussion at all ... as a Black man in America, I'm allowed to have my own thoughts on who I choose to support and who I choose not to support."

He continued: "My support for President Trump ... is irrelevant. That has nothing to do with this discussion. This is whether the ideology of somebody who is conservative is welcome in the Congressional Black Caucus. It's really that simple."

"I have expressed interest in joining. I've been very consistent in that," Donalds told Keilar. "Friends of mine who are Democrats from the Florida legislature have asked me if I would join. I've told them 'yeah,' but I'm waiting to hear from the CBC."

In a statement provided to news outlets including NBC News, the CBC didn't address Donalds directly, saying instead it would work with those who shared its "values."

"The Congressional Black Caucus remains committed to fighting for issues that support Black communities, including the police accountability bill, protecting voting rights, and a jobs bill that helps our communities," the statement read. "We will work with those who share our values and priorities for the constituents we serve."

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In response, Donalds told Keilar: "I think when it comes to quote-unquote 'values,' the values that I espouse are making sure that all Americans have the ability to thrive and prosper and that Black Americans have an opportunity to do that, as well. That's where I am and that's what I stand on."

In a statement given to Fox News following his CNN interview, Donalds' spokesman said: "We were well prepared for her to set multiple traps for the congressman to try and fall into, which he handled with ease. There is no doubt white liberals can't comprehend how Black people could be Republicans, especially Trump supporters, so I wouldn't say that was surprising it was just publicized. She also was obviously justifying the CBC for denying my boss, but that was also not a surprise."

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