On Oct. 4, 2023, Medhi Hasan, the host of MSNBC's "The Medhi Hasan Show," posted on X that former U.S. President Donald Trump said that undocumented immigrants coming into the U.S. were "poisoning the blood of our country." Hasan called Trump's remark "a straight-up white supremacist [or] neo-Nazi talking point."
We reached out to the Trump campaign by email to ask about this matter but did not hear back.
In this story, we'll take a look at the transcript of Trump's remarks, a moment from a past debate in which Trump mentioned drugs coming into the U.S. via the border using the same "poisoning the blood" phrasing, and relevant passages from "Mein Kampf" by Nazi Party leader Adolf Hitler. We'll also briefly touch on the other claims made by the former president during the same interview.
Video: 'Poisoning the Blood of Our Country'
Hasan's post referenced a video interview that Trump did with Raheem Kassam, the editor in chief of The National Pulse and the former director of Breitbart News London.
The National Pulse is an independent publisher that, among other offers, promotes "Insider" and "Insider Plus" content from former Trump adviser Steve Bannon.
The portion of Trump's remarks relevant to Hasan's post begin at the 1:05 mark in the video interview.
We transcribed Trump's answer below. The part referenced in Hasan's post has been bolded:
KASSAM: You've been giving some huge speeches to some huge crowds, but I noticed specifically the focus on immigration. And I wonder if... it brought to my mind the thing from your inauguration speech where you talked about "American carnage," right?
TRUMP: Right, yes.
KASSAM: And I wonder, you know, between the crime, especially in the cities, immigration, the border, what's going on overseas at the moment, did you ever think you would see this level of "American carnage"?
TRUMP: No, nobody has ever seen anything like this. And I think we could say worldwide. I think you could go to the... you could go to a banana republic and pick the worst one, and you're not going to see what we're witnessing now. No control whatsoever. Nobody has any idea where these people are coming from, and we know they come from prisons. We know they come from mental institutions [and] insane asylums. We know they're terrorists. Nobody has ever seen anything like we're witnessing right now. It is a very sad thing for our country. It's poisoning the blood of our country. It's so bad, and people are coming in with disease. People are coming in with every possible thing that you could have. And I got to know a lot of the heads of these countries. They're very cunning people. Very street-smart people. If they're not street-smart, they're not going to be there very long. And when they send up those caravans, and I had it ended, we had the safest border in the history of our country, meaning the history, over the last 80 years. Before that, I assume it was probably not so bad. There was nobody around. But, we had the safest in recorded history by far. The least amount of drugs in many, many decades. The least amount of human trafficking, which is a tremendous problem. But, when you look at what's taking place now, nobody's... first of all, it's not sustainable by any country, including ours, even from a (inaudible) standpoint. And, you know, we built over 500 miles of wall. We were going to put up another 200 miles. And, we had it bought. Everything was bought. Everything was purchased. They were going to ready. It could have been done within three weeks. Another 200 miles, all done. And they didn't want to do it. When you look at the numbers of people coming in, and the numbers, Raheem, are much bigger than anyone understands. I really believe it's going to be 15 million people by the end of this year during this administration. That's larger than New York state. Ok, this is what we have.
As Hasan mentioned in his post, Trump said migrants were "poisoning the blood of our country." Immediately after that remark, the former president added, "It's so bad, and people are coming in with disease." Trump's use of the word "and" in this sentence could have indicated that his comment about "disease" was a separate and unrelated thought from his "poisoning the blood of our country" remark, though he could also have meant that people "coming in with disease" (and/or drugs, which he mentions a few sentences later) are thereby "poisoning the blood of our country" that way.
We will update this story should Trump's campaign respond to our email inquiry.
Trump Also Mentioned 'Poisoning the Blood' in Connection with Migrants in 2016
On Oct. 19, 2016, during the third and final presidential debate featuring Trump and former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, Trump used the same phrasing — "poisoning the blood" — specifically in reference to heroin coming into the country via the southern border:
I was up in New Hampshire the other day. The biggest complaint they have—it’s with all of the problems going on in the world, many of the problems caused by Hillary Clinton and by Barack Obama. All of the problems—the single biggest problem is heroin that pours across our southern border. It’s just pouring and destroying their youth. It’s poisoning the blood of their youth and plenty of other people. We have to have strong borders. We have to keep the drugs out of our country. We are—right now, we’re getting the drugs, they’re getting the cash. We need strong borders. We need absolute—we cannot give amnesty.
This moment from the 2016 debate begins at the 21:37 mark in the video below:
(The rest of Trump's answer can be read in the transcript hosted by Debates.org.)
'Blood' and 'Poison' in Hitler's 'Mein Kampf'
At the end of Hasan's post on X, he claimed that Trump's comment was "a straight-up white supremacist [or] neo-Nazi talking point."
The words "poison" and/or "blood" do appear in multiple chapters of Hitler's 1925 manifesto, "Mein Kampf," as the self-described pro-democracy media organization MeidasTouch.com pointed out in its own reporting about Trump's remark.
For example, this sentence from the first chapter of the first volume mentions "the poison of foreign races":
In the north and in the south the poison of foreign races was eating into the body of our people, and even Vienna was steadily becoming more and more a non-German city.
In chapter four, Hitler wrote about "poison," "blood" and "self-preservation":
It seemed as if some all-pervading poisonous fluid had been injected by some mysterious hand into the bloodstream of this once heroic body, bringing about a creeping paralysis that affected the reason and the elementary instinct of self-preservation.
In chapter 10, Hitler wrote the following in regard to his distrust of works published by Jewish journalists:
And so this poison was allowed to enter the national bloodstream and infect public life without the Government taking any effectual measures to master the course of the disease.
In chapter 11, Hitler once again mentioned both "poison" and "blood":
["The Jew"] occasionally bestowed one of his female members on an influential Christian; but the racial stock of his male descendants was always preserved unmixed fundamentally. He poisons the blood of others but preserves his own blood unadulterated.
In a fifth example of how Trump's "poisoning the blood of our country" remark appeared to echo Hitler's writing, we turn to chapter two of volume two of "Mein Kampf." In this passage, Hitler wrote of "the poison of miscegenation" as being "detrimental." (The word "miscegenation" is defined by Merriam-Webster as "marriage, cohabitation or sexual intercourse between a white person and a member of another race.")
The present State, for instance, may continue to exist in a mere mechanical form, but the poison of miscegenation permeating the national body brings about a cultural decadence which manifests itself already in various symptoms that are of a detrimental character.
Thus the indispensable prerequisite for the existence of a superior quality of human beings is not the State but the race, which is alone capable of producing that higher human quality.
Later in chapter two, in the passage that some may argue is the most relevant to this fact check, Hitler mentions "poison," "blood," "foreign blood" and "open frontiers," the latter being an apparent reference to the borders of Germany:
Unfortunately the German national being is not based on a uniform racial type. The process of welding the original elements together has not gone so far as to warrant us in saying that a new race has emerged. On the contrary, the poison which has invaded the national body, especially since the Thirty Years' War, has destroyed the uniform constitution not only of our blood but also of our national soul. The open frontiers of our native country, the association with non-German foreign elements in the territories that lie all along those frontiers, and especially the strong influx of foreign blood into the interior of the Reich itself, has prevented any complete assimilation of those various elements, because the influx has continued steadily.
More mentions of "poison" and "blood" by Adolf Hitler can be found by searching the full text of "Mein Kampf" on the Project Gutenberg website.
We note, however, that despite the use of the xenophobic and inflammatory phrase "poisoning the blood" by both Hitler and Trump, they may not have meant precisely the same thing by it. It appears that Hitler was fundamentally claiming that an influx of "foreign blood" (i.e., that of non-Aryan races) had "poisoned the blood" of the German race through miscegenation. Trump, on the other hand, judging from his statements in both the National Pulse interview and the 2016 debate, appears to have been claiming that immigrants bring dangerous drugs and diseases across the southern border, and it is those which are "poisoning the blood" of Americans. What, exactly, Trump did mean to say remains unclear and difficult to parse.
Again, we reached out to Trump's campaign for clarification but received no reply.
Trump made numerous claims during his interview with The National Pulse.
For example, Trump claimed without providing evidence that 15 million migrants will have crossed the U.S.-Mexico border under U.S. President Joe Biden's administration by the end of 2023.
Data from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) showed that, from February 2021 through August 2023, border agents had recorded encounters with around 6 million migrants, a number far lower than the one mentioned by Trump, with only four months of data remaining to be reported.
Trump also claimed that the population of New York state was less than 15 million people. However, data for the year 2022 on Census.gov showed that the population of the state was more than 19.6 million people.
For information regarding some of the many other claims made by Trump, we advise readers to look through relevant fact checks from PolitiFact, TRAC Reports (Syracuse.edu), USA Today, and FactCheck.org, among others.