Trump Appointee Resigns and Apologizes for Racist Comments

Most of Mr. Higbie’s offensive comments, which were unearthed by CNN, were made in 2013 and 2014.

While hosting an internet radio broadcast, “Sound of Freedom,” in 2013, Mr. Higbie spoke of the “high percentage of people on welfare in the black race,” blaming “a lax of morality.” He added that taxpayers “are tired of supporting government checks going to these people who think that breeding is a form of employment,” CNN reported.

Mr. Higbie, 34, who is from Greenwich, Conn., said that at the time, he was trying to make a name for himself as a controversial radio host who taunted liberal guests and garnered ratings through “shock and awe.”

“I picked and prodded at every single guest I had in order to try to get a rise out of them,” he said on Saturday. “And it was just poor class.”

In one “Sound of Freedom” broadcast, Mr. Higbie said he opposed homosexuality in part because he was “molested by a gay guy” when he was a child, CNN reported.

“So I, I just, I really don’t care for them,” he said in 2013. “You know what, you want to be gay? Fine. Do it over in your own corner.”

Mr. Higbie, a former Navy SEAL who served two tours in Iraq, also said that those getting government assistance “at any given time during any election cycle” should “not get to vote at the subsequent election.” He said that 75 percent of people with post-traumatic stress disorder don’t have it, and “they’re either milking something for a little extra money in disability or they’re just, they honestly are just lying.”

Mr. Higbie also expressed disdain for Muslims several times.

“People say, ‘You know, you’re so harsh,’” he said on Warrior Talk Radio in August 2014. “I was called an Islamophobe and I was like: ‘No, no, no, no, no, I’m not afraid of them. I don’t like them. Big difference.’ And they were like, ‘Well, you’re racist.’ I was like, ‘Fine, if that’s the definition of it, then I guess I am.’”

In 2013, Mr. Higbie was fresh out of the Navy, and transitioning back to civilian life, he said on Saturday.

“When I came out of the military, I struggled with how to accept Islam because of my experience overseas, as do a lot of veterans,” he said. “Those comments were directed at the faction that was either radicalized or tolerant of the radicalized ones.”

As for his views about homosexuality, Mr. Higbie said that he had recently developed some “very close friends” who are gay, and had learned that “it’s a live-and-let-live thing.”

“I met these people and I was like, ‘Wow, they’re normal people,’” he said. “It was a good experience for me to understand that you can’t just hate people because of that. Not that I hate them. I just didn’t understand the ideology. And I was wrong to have that opinion.”

Mr. Higbie also drew criticism in 2016, while serving as a spokesman for the pro-Trump group Great America PAC, when he said during an interview with Megyn Kelly on Fox News that there was “precedent” for creating a registry for immigrants from Muslim countries, a proposal met with strong opposition by civil rights activists.

“We’ve done it based on race, we’ve done it based on religion, we’ve done it based on region,” Mr. Higbie told Ms. Kelly. “We’ve done it with Iran back — back a while ago. We did it during World War II with Japanese.”

He later explained to The New York Times that he had been alluding to the United States Supreme Court, which had “upheld things as horrific as Japanese internment camps.”

Mr. Higbie is one of many White House officials who have resigned or were fired, dismissed or reassigned over the past year, including Stephen K. Bannon, Mr. Trump’s chief strategist; Omarosa Manigault Newman, director of communications for the White House Office of Public Liaison; and Tom Price, the health and human services secretary.

The White House on Saturday confirmed that it had accepted Mr. Higbie’s resignation but offered no additional comment.

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