(CN) – Following reports that President Donald Trump referred to Haiti and some African nations as “shithole countries” last week, a new poll finds that 44 percent of Americans believe the president is racist.
The YouGov poll of 1,500 Americans, released Wednesday, follows another shoot-from-the-hip outburst from the president, who is known for making controversial statements.
Allegations of racism against Trump are nothing new. The federal government sued him in the 70s for violating the Fair Housing Act, contending that he and his father refused to rent apartments to black tenants. During his 2016 presidential campaign, he created a stir when he referred to Mexican immigrants as “rapists.” But unlike his other off-the-cuff comments, his “shithole” remark continues to draw fire nearly a week later.
The news of Trump’s comments, made in a closed meeting and later confirmed by Senator Dick Durbin, spurred reactions from both international leaders and Republican lawmakers in Washington during the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday.
On Friday, House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, said he was disappointed by the president’s words.
"I read those comments later last night, the first thing that came to my mind was very unfortunate, unhelpful," Ryan said at a political luncheon.
Rupert Colville, spokesman for the United Nations Human Rights Council, had harsher comments for President Trump.
"I'm sorry, but there's no other word one can use but racist," Colville said at a news conference. "You cannot dismiss entire countries and continents as 'shitholes' whose entire populations, who are not white, are therefore not welcome."
Trump’s comments may have added fuel to the fire for those who question his mental fitness for the job. In a Quinnipiac University poll of 1,121 Americans released Wednesday, 47 percent of respondents said he is not mentally stable.
The same poll found that 59 percent of Americans think the president does not respect people of color as much as he does white people. Amid consistently low approval ratings, 64 percent of those polled said President Trump is dividing the country rather than uniting it.
"President Donald Trump can't seem to improve his approval rating, perhaps because of the troubling fact that half of the voters we spoke to think he is mentally unstable," Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University poll, said in a written statement. "The president is a divider, not a uniter, say an overwhelming number of voters, an assessment made even more disturbing by his perceived lack of respect for people of color."
As if low approval ratings and concerns about racism and mental fitness aren’t enough, members of President Trump’s administration are still under investigation for improper contact with Russian government officials.
Republican lawmakers have called for replacing special counsel Robert Mueller, a lifelong Republican who was appointed by President George W. Bush to lead the FBI in 2001.
According to a new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist Poll poll released Wednesday, nearly half (48 percent) of Americans believe Mueller’s investigation is fair. Only 28 percent of those polled believe Mueller will not run a fair investigation.
Steve Bannon, the one-time chief strategist for President Trump, is expected to answer questions in an upcoming interview with Mueller’s team.
Read the Top 8
Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.