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Rep. Maxine Waters said Republican Sen. Tim Scott’s statement that “America is not a racist country” shows his ignorance of both the nation’s past and present.

“If he really believes that, then he has missed not only the history of the country but what is going on right now,” Waters, a Democrat from Los Angeles, told Inside California Politics last week.

Scott — one of the only three Black members of the Republican Party in Congress — made his statement during the GOP’s response to President Joe Biden’s Wednesday night speech to Congress.

Scott’s fellow South Carolinian and Republican of color, former Gov. Nikki Haley, used the exact same formulation — “America is not a racist country” — during her speech to the GOP convention last August.

Asked about the statement by Scott, Waters said the adamance with which he delivered the words was “unexpected.”

“Maybe he meant to say that there are many people who are not racist in this country. But, yes, we have a problem with racism, and that we must work to do something about it,” Waters said. “Maybe that’s what he meant to say. He didn’t say it.”

In the brief interview, Waters referred to the treatment of Black officers by the overwhelmingly white violent mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, some using racial slurs against Black police officers. She mentioned President Donald Trump’s support from white supremacist extremist groups.

“Every day we have seen this nation get more racist than anybody thought, perhaps, would be at this point in time,” Waters said. “Trump … was taking us backwards.”

At the same time, an increasing number of the country’s residents have come to recognize the depth and legacy of American racism in recent years, Waters said.

But many Republicans don’t acknowledge systemic racism. According to an AP political analysis, the choice of Scott to deliver the Republican response to Biden was a tacit acknowledgement that change is needed.