For months, Donald Trump unleashed a series of thinly veiled racist comments about his former transportation secretary, the wife of his party’s Senate leader, to the relative silence of other GOP officials.
Days after her latest abuse, Elaine Chao issued a rare rebuke to the former president amid growing reports of anti-Asian hatred and shocking acts of violence affecting Asian American communities.
“When I was young, some people deliberately misspelled or mispronounced my name. Asian Americans have worked hard to change that experience for the next generation,” she said in a statement to Politics. “He doesn’t seem to understand that, which says a lot more about him than it will ever say about Asian Americans.”
Mr. Trump has repeatedly used a racist moniker or a variation of “woman loving China” on his Truth Social account to describe Ms. Chao, a Republican and the first Asian American woman to serve in a presidential cabinet.
Her husband, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, is frequently criticized by Mr Trump for his insufficient deference to the former president, a rivalry that has accelerated in recent days with the Republican leader’s admission that the GOP officials must negotiate with the Biden administration to avoid potentially devastating risks. consequences of the fight against the debt ceiling in Congress.
Mr. Trump also suggested that the GOP Senate leader was compromised by his wife’s connection to China. In October, Mr Trump said Mr McConnell had a “death wish” if he backed legislation backed by congressional Democrats.
Last month, Ms Chao refused to respond to the former president’s continued use of a racist nickname for her and urged the media to avoid repeating it.
“I mean, if it was the N-word or any other word, the media wouldn’t repeat it. But the media continually repeats his racist taunt,” she told CNN. “He’s trying to tease us…He says all kinds of outrageous things, and I don’t want to respond to any of them.”
Ms Chao resigned days before the end of Mr Trump’s term following the attack on the US Capitol staged by his supporters on January 6, 2021.
“Yesterday our country experienced a traumatic and entirely preventable event when supporters of the President stormed the Capitol Building following a rally he addressed,” she wrote in a statement. letter to Department of Transportation personnel a day after the assault. “As I’m sure it does for many of you, it has troubled me deeply in ways that I simply cannot put aside.”
Ms. Chao was born in Taiwan, moved to the United States in her youth and was naturalized as a citizen at 19.
Trump spokesman Steven Cheung said in a statement to Politics that the former president’s remarks were aimed at her family’s “troublesome ties to communist China”, although an inspector general’s report made no formal findings of ethics violations involving the shipping company of her family while she was in office.
Few GOP officials have condemned the former president’s statements; his former director of communications Alyssa Farah called his latest remarks “outright racism”.
“This loaded and racist rhetoric is dangerous,” she said.