Carl Higbie, a top staffer at an advocacy group closely aligned with President Donald Trump, said on a radio show that past racist comments he made had been taken "out of context" and were a "statistical observation."
Higbie is the director of advocacy at America First Policies, a nonprofit that works to promote Trump's agenda. A former Navy SEAL, Higbie resigned from his position in January as the public face of the federal government agency that oversees AmericCorps and other public service programs, after a CNN KFile investigation found he had made racist, sexist, anti-Muslim and anti-gay remarks on the radio.
Higbie said on his radio show in 2013 and 2014 that "the black race" has "a lax of morality" and that black women "think that breeding is a form of employment." Higbie also said, "I believe wholeheartedly, wholeheartedly, that the black race as a whole, not totally, is lazier than the white race, period."
Higbie initially apologized in January for his remarks but is now defending them.
Speaking Friday with "The John Fredericks Show," a Washington, DC-based radio program, Higbie claimed some of his comments were "statistical" observations and taken out of context.
"They dig up a couple things, a couple. Look, I had a radio show," Higbie said. "How many times have you said something on radio that could possibly be construed as very controversial when taken completely out of context? What, daily?"
"If you read the CNN headline on me, it's racist, homophobic, bigot, sexist. The irony here is that they never mention the fact that I was literally the head of the national community service agency for the federal government," Higbie said. In fact, CNN did include Higbie's position in the story and described it in detail.
Higbie went on to say, "I spent more time in low-income, urban minority communities in seven months than most people do in their entire lives. Because that's the demographic that I was helping when I was there every single day. They didn't mention anything about the fact that I did mission trips in high school to Dominican Republic, Central America, South America. They didn't mention any of that stuff."
"I'm also on the board of the Urban Revitalization Coalition, which is run by the National Diversity Coalition," he added, referring to two Trump-aligned diversity groups. "You could not have been more far off base by putting that headline out there. However, it fit their narrative, and because I made a statistical observation, they think that's racist."
Vice President Mike Pence has appeared several times at events hosted by America First Policies, including those with Higbie present. Pence is scheduled to appear at a fundraiser for the group Tuesday, which Higbie indicated on Twitter he will attend.
The vice president's office did not comment. Erin Montgomery, a spokeswoman for America First Policies, declined to comment on Higbie's remarks but said CNN should invite Higbie on air to answer questions, a sentiment Higbie later seconded in an email to CNN.
On Twitter Sunday, Higbie said he stood by comments he had made that 75% of veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder were faking it. He later deleted that tweet and wrote instead, "I deleted my post on #veterans and #PTSD not because I backed away from it but b/c it is hard to articulate the depth of the issue in 200 or so characters."