Rafu Staff Report

In his latest attack on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, former President Donald Trump also used racially charged language to describe McConnell’s wife, former Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao.

In a Sept. 30 post on his social media platform, Truth Social, Trump criticized McConnell for approving “Trillions of Dollars worth of Democrat sponsored Bills … because he hates Donald J. Trump” or because he “believes in the Fake and Highly Destructive Green New Deal.”

Mitch McConnell and Elaine Chao in 2013. (AP file photo)

Trump wrote, “In any event, either reason is unacceptable. He has a DEATH WISH.”

The former president then said, “Must immediately seek help and advise [sic] from his China loving wife, Coco Chow!”

Chao resigned as transportation secretary after the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol, saying, “It has deeply troubled me in a way that I simply cannot set aside.” McConnell, while not a supporter of the Green New Deal, does support a bipartisan bill to reform the Electoral Count Act by changing the way Congress counts electoral votes and making it more difficult to challenge state-certified election results.

Trump’s comment about Chao, who served in his Cabinet from 2017 to 2021 and was secretary of labor under President George W. Bush from 2001 to 2009, has been denounced as racist and misguided. Chao, the first Asian American woman to serve at the Cabinet level, was born in Taiwan and immigrated to the U.S. as a child. She is a former director of the Red Cross and former president and CEO of United Way of America.

There was no immediate response from Chao or McConnell.

When asked by CNN’s Dana Bash about Trump’s statement, Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) refused to condemn it, saying, “The president likes to give people nicknames. I’m sure he has a nickname for me.”

But CNN commentator and “The View” co-host Alyssa Farah Griffin, who was Trump’s  communications director in 2020, denounced Trump, saying on Twitter, “He’s not even trying to hide the racism at this point. Just despicable.”

She added, “This isn’t some crazy person on the internet, this is the GOP front-runner for president if the party doesn’t wake up and demand better.”

“The View” co-host Ana Navarro commented, “Trump’s attacks on McConnell and Elaine Chao are despicable. It is who he is — a man with a lifelong record of racism. Shame on those who out of political ambition were and are complicitly silent about his behavior, at a time when attacks against AAPI have dramatically increased.”

Scott Jennings, a former aide to McConnell, told CNN that Trump’s remark about Chao demonstrated “blatant racism.” He said that Trump’s words were those of “an unhinged, deranged person” and “beyond the pale,” and that “every Republican ought to be able to say so. This is not good for the party.”

Allan Fung, a GOP congressional candidate in Rhode Island, said, “I would not have used that language, do not condone its use, and condemn it.”

Committee of 100 President Zhengyu “Z” Huang said in a statement, “The racist slurs and hate that former U.S. President Donald Trump directed against former U.S. Secretary of Labor and U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao was deplorable, disgusting, and inexcusable. This type of language only contributes to the vicious cycle of hatred, bigotry and violence directed at Chinese Americans and the AAPI community.

“An attack on Asian Americans, be it verbal or physical, is an attack on all Americans. We cannot sit idly by and allow racially charged language to go unchecked. Words have meaning, and racially charged words have consequences. We strongly condemn the language used by former President Donald Trump and urge groups and organizations across all communities to join with Committee of 100 in making such behaviors unacceptable in American life.”

The Committee of 100 is an organization of Chinese Americans in business, government, academia and the arts whose stated aim is “to encourage constructive relations between the peoples of the United States and Greater China.” It also provides a forum for issues that Americans of Chinese descent face in bettering their lives.

Political commentator Lindy Li, who served on the Asian American outreach team for Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential campaign, had a different take: “Elaine Chao profited from Trump for four years and resigned at the last minute without strongly condemning him. McConnell refused to convict Trump during the Senate trial, letting Trump retain his power over the GOP. Neither of these complicit grifters deserve any of our sympathy.”

Trump has called McConnell, a former ally, “a broken-down hack politician” and has recently started to criticize Chao as well. In an Aug. 20 post, Trump said that McConnell “should spend more time (and money!) helping [Republicans] get elected, and less time helping his crazy wife and family get rich on China!”

When asked by The Hill if he had a response to that post, McConnell simply said, “No.”

In an Aug. 31 opinion piece, the Editorial Board of The Wall Street Journal noted that Chao is from Taiwan, not China, and said, “She’s one of six daughters of James S.C. Chao, who founded the Foremost Group, a U.S. shipping company based in New York. It’s an immigrant success story. Ms. Chao’s sister Angela is now CEO, but Elaine is neither an employee nor an owner.

“The company specializes in bulk-commodity ships that carry grain and other freight. Foremost Group ships travel often to Chinese ports because much of the world’s commodity trade goes to and from China. The destinations are set by the owner of the commodities. You can’t be in the global shipping business and not travel to Chinese ports.

“Some Foremost ships were built in China over the years, but we’re told the company currently has no such contracts. The company does have contracts for ships made in Japan … But countless American firms have done business with Chinese companies since the country opened up in the 1980s and there was hope for its economic and political reform …

“Is Mr. Trump now claiming that any American who does business in China is a traitor or in bed with the Communist Party? It’s hard to believe Mr. Trump would make these accusations if Ms. Chao wasn’t ethnic Chinese.

“If he believes what he says, then why did Mr. Trump invite Ms. Chao to join his Cabinet? The Foremost Group’s commercial history and business with China were all known at the time. Mr. Trump also praised Ms. Chao for doing ‘an incredible job’ as late in his term as July 2020. In April 2020 he said she was doing a ‘fantastic job.’

“Ms. Chao’s real offense, apart from being married to Mr. McConnell, is that she resigned from the Cabinet after the Jan. 6 riot. Mr. Trump can’t abide that stand on principle.”

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