SPLC Writer Claims ‘Drain the Swamp’ Is Racist

Ryan Lenz, a senior writer for the Southern Poverty Law Center, suggested that Donald Trump's "Drain the Swamp" slogan has racist connotations in an appearance Tuesday on CNN.

Host John Berman interviewed Lenz following a segment covering a conference held in Washington, D.C. over the weekend of a so-called alt-right group that supports white nationalist and Neo-Nazi views.

Lenz addressed a video that shows attendees at the gathering cheering the election of Donald Trump with chants similar to ones used by Nazis under Adolf Hitler's rule. Lenz said that the president-Elect has not done enough to disavow such groups.

Berman then played a clip of Trump's interview with 60 Minutes in which he told his supporters to not participate in any kind of violent or hateful acts.

"That's a good message, yes, Ryan?" Berman asked.

"Yes, it's a good message, but it doesn't seem to have had any effect," Lenz responded.

He went on to claim that Trump's signature "Drain the Swamp" phrase has racist origins and served as a dog whistle to white supremacists.

"He said he's going to drain the swamp. Drain the swamp was a meme, a twitter hashtag that grew, exploded," Lenz said. "It was spread specifically–or among the people spreading the drain the swamp hashtag were avowed racists, white supremacists who exist on Twitter to harass and demean various ethnic groups."

Berman noted that "there are plenty of people who are in favor of draining the swamp, not having lobbyists involved and taking some of the money out of politics that I'm sure have no notion at all that is anyway a connection or supported by groups like this."

The Southern Poverty Law Center has been vocal in its criticism of Donald Trump's rhetoric and has come out against his nomination of Sen. Jeff Session (R., Ala.) for attorney general.