Top aide says Trump’s criticism of black lawmaker not racist

President Donald Trump speaks in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Friday, July 26, 2019. Trump announced that Guatemala is signing an agreement to restrict asylum applications to the U.S. from Central America.

WASHINGTON (AP) — A top White House aide defends President Donald Trump’s disparaging tweets about an influential black Democratic congressman and his Baltimore district as a justified response to the lawmaker’s criticism of administration border policies.

Acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney says Trump was upset over what he perceives to be inaccurate statements by Rep. Elijah Cummings about conditions in which children are being held in detention at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Mulvaney tells “Fox News Sunday” that “when the president hears lies like that, he’s going to fight back.”

At a hearing last week, Cummings accused a top administration official of wrongly calling reports of filthy, overcrowded border facilities “unsubstantiated.”

Mulvaney denies that Trump’s Twitter comments Saturday were racist and says Trump would criticize any lawmaker who spoke unfairly about his policies.