White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said on Tuesday that President Joe Biden believes that all Los Angeles City Council members who took part in a racist conversation uncovered this week should all “step down.”
“The President is glad to see that one of the participants in that conversation has resigned, but they all should. He believes that they all should resign. The language that was used and tolerated during that conversation was unacceptable and it was appalling. They should all step down,” Jean-Pierre said at Tuesday’s briefing.
Los Angeles City Council member Nury Martinez resigned Monday as the legislative body’s president after making racist remarks about a fellow council member and his Black child. On Tuesday, Martinez took a leave of absence from the council.
The remarks were part of leaked audio that was posted anonymously on Reddit and obtained by The Los Angeles Times. According to the newspaper, the audio details a conversation between Martinez, Councilmembers Gil Cedillo and Kevin de León and Los Angeles County Federation of Labor President Ron Herrera.
When talking about the redistricting maps, the councilmembers discussed the need to “ensure that heavily Latino districts did not lose economic assets” in the once-in-a-decade process, according to the Times.
The councilmembers then discussed Councilmember Mike Bonin. In clips of the leaked audio posted by the Times, Martinez is heard recounting a conversation and says, “Bonin thinks he’s f**king Black.”
According to the Times, Martinez says Bonin appeared with his son on a float in a Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade and he “handled his young Black son as though he were an accessory.” The boy is 8 years old, according to a Facebook post by his father.
The Times reported that Martinez also said of Bonin’s child, “Parece changuito,” or “He’s like a monkey.”
In a statement Monday, Martinez apologized for the comments. “I take responsibility for what I said and there are no excuses for those comments.”
Herrera, the president of Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, resigned at a meeting Monday, the union said in a statement in which it called on elected officials who were present when the racist remarks were made to step down as well.
Jean-Pierre’s comments were the first time that the White House had weighed in on the scandal. During her answer, the press secretary sought to make a political distinction between Democrats and Republicans, saying, “Here’s a difference between Democrats and MAGA Republicans.”
“When a Democrat says something racist or antisemitic, we hold Democrats accountable. When a MAGA Republican says something racist or antisemitic, they are embraced by cheering crowds and become celebrated,” she said.
CNN’s Chris Boyette, Stella Chan, Ray Sanchez, Camila Bernal, Sarah Moon and Aya Elamroussi contributed to this report.