Trump is quietly attempting to walk back his destructive rhetoric, but in a way that his loyal supporters won't see.
Donald Trump's description of numerous countries with large, non-white populations as "shitholes" created multiple international incidents, and yet another instance where world leaders felt compelled to denounce the United States for Trump's bigotry.
Now in a new letter, the Trump administration is quietly telling the leaders of some of the countries he targeted that he "deeply respects" Africans but carefully doing so in a way that many of the diehards he counts on for political support will not see.
The letter also said America "profoundly respects" the partnership between our nation and members of the African union, and claims that Trump is committed to "strong and respectful relationships with African states."
NBC News and the Associated Press obtained copies of the letter, but the document was not promoted or publicly released by the Trump administration or the State Department.
To elevate the letter would likely offend the many people with bigoted views who have boosted Trump, both as a candidate and during his presidential tenure.
And many of them were quick to dismiss the "shithole" comments and find ways to justify the sentiment, if not the specific wording.
Trump's hateful comments and statements turn off vast numbers of Americans, in favor of rhetoric that appeases the "base" of his supporters.
Minimizing a half-hearted rollback of his "shithole" comment would fit right in with that approach.
Trump is trying to have it both ways: undo the damage of his racist rhetoric, while also appeasing those who approve of it and who have invested in his presidency.