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Eric Holder mocks MAGA slogan: 'Exactly when did you think America was great?'


The former U.S. attorney general dismissed what he called 'an American past that never in fact really existed'

Toya Sarno Jordan/Getty Images

Former Attorney General Eric Holder made clear his feelings on President Donald Trump's 2016 campaign slogan — "Make America Great Again" — this week, saying in an interview that whenever he hears the rallying cry, he thinks to himself, "exactly when did you think America was great?"

What are the details?

Holder sat down with MSNBC's Ari Melber to discuss progress on criminal justice reform and his new agenda to fight gerrymandering through redistricting.

The crux of their discussion was on racial inequities in the U.S. court system, which Holder explained could be combated through "training."

"I do worry that judges — like all other Americans — carry with them implicit biases, and especially in the criminal justice sphere," he said.

Melber asked the former attorney general, "There is a lot of talk about America being a leader as a democracy, quote unquote, in the 1800s when women and African-Americans couldn't vote. What kind of democracy is that?"

In what Fox News called an unprovoked response, Holder replied, "Well, that's exactly right. And that's when I hear these things about 'let's make America great again,' I think to myself, 'well, exactly when did you think America was great?' It certainly wasn't when people were enslaved. It certainly wasn't when women didn't have the right to vote. It certainly wasn't when the LGBT community was denied the rights to which it was entitled."

When Melber followed up with the question, "Does that phrase echo as discrimination in your ears?" Mr. Holder replied, "It takes us back to what I think, an American past that never in fact really existed. This notion of greatness."

Holder conceded that America has done great things, then added, "but we are always a work in process, and looking back, 'Make America Great Again' is inconsistent with who we are as Americans at our best where we look at the uncertain future, embrace it, and make it our own."

Anything else?

Holder isn't the first Democrat to question the MAGA slogan. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo told an audience last year that America "was never that great."

The governor later walked back his comments amid criticism.

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