Trump 2020 campaign adviser Katrina Pierson on Sunday dismissed a question about diversity within President Trump's administration by asking how many black people worked in President Abraham Lincoln's administration.
"I'm not going to participate in the attempt to make this all about race. It is ridiculous," Pierson, who is African American, said during an appearance on MSNBC. "How many black people were in Abraham Lincoln's West Wing?"
Pierson invoked Lincoln after Rev. Al Sharpton pressed her on how many black people work inside the White House. The question led to a heated exchange, with Pierson accusing Sharpton of attempting to paint the president as a racist.
"Everything has to be made about race, reverend ... I'm not going to participate if you're going to continue to paint this president as racist," Pierson said.
Sharpton then asked how Trump can appeal to black voters without hiring African-Americans within his administration, to which Pierson said there are "plenty of black people" in the West Wing.
"There's plenty of black people working in the White House," Pierson said, before bringing up the lack of diversity inside Lincoln's White House.
"If you've got to go back to Abe Lincoln you've really need to shop it," Sharpton replied.
"Is Abraham Lincoln a racist because he didn't have a black person in his White House? This is insane. This is an insane discussion," she added.
Activist David Brock later remarked that the lack of diversity inside the White House was a stark contrast to the diverse batch of Democratic candidates running for president in 2020.
Trump has faced widespread scrutiny from Democrats on issues related to race since he launched his 2016 campaign. Several 2020 presidential candidates, including Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), have labeled the president a racist.
In March 2018, many on social media criticized the lack of diversity among its White House interns after the administration released a photo of the mostly-white class.