A Georgia state lawmaker said he would not have an issue if President Donald Trump used the n-word in the past and argued that holding a president accountable for mistakes made before entering office would "set a bad precedent."
"I will always say using the n-word is wrong, and it's bad, and should never be accepted in our society. But just because (Trump) might have done it years ago, not as our president, doesn't mean we need to continue to berate him because he used it," GOP state Sen. Michael Williams, who is white, told CNN's Victor Blackwell on "New Day Saturday."
Williams said it is "always wrong to use that word," but that Trump, as President, has not used that word.
He added, "To hold somebody accountable for something he did years ago as our president today, I think it sets a bad precedent."
The question of whether Trump used the racial epithet arose this month from a claim former White House staffer Omarosa Manigault Newman made in her book "Unhinged," which was released this week, that Trump used the racial slur on the set of "The Apprentice" and that a recording of it exists. The alleged existence of the tape has not been verified.
The White House has said the book is "riddled with lies and false accusations," and Trump has dismissed the claim made by Manigault Newman.
Williams said it would matter to him personally if Trump used the racial slur, but he added, "it would not necessarily matter to me as the person that is running our country."
Trump "has his personal beliefs, his personal ideas. I truly believe he is able to separate those from how he is running the country," Williams said.
Williams ran for governor, infamously using a "deportation bus" to drum up support, but he finished fifth in the May GOP primary, garnering only about 4% of the vote.
On Tuesday, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said she "can't guarantee" Trump hasn't used the n-word, but she has "never heard him use that term or anything similar."