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Geraldo Rivera Calls Out Hegseth For Defending Trump’s Racist Tweets: ‘What the Hell, Pete?’

Fox News personalities Pete Hegseth and Geraldo Rivera got into a heated clash Friday morning over the issue of President Donald Trump and his supporters telling congresswomen of color to “go back” to other countries.

Rivera began the segment by saying Trump, who told minority Democratic Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar, and Ayanna Pressley to leave the U.S. for the nations they supposedly “originally” came from, made a “nativist, xenophobic, racist attack” against the lawmakers.

“Go back to where you came from is the old racist trope, that all of us, ethnic or racial minorities have grown up with at various times,” he added. “It is unforgivable, this day and age. I really lament it came up. I’m glad the president has said what he said.”

Hegseth replied by insisting the president “is not talking a race, he is talking about whether you love the country and appreciate it. And If you appreciate it, don’t love it, don’t want to work together, then maybe you go consider” leaving America.

“What the hell?! C’mon Pete!” Rivera immediately shot back, cutting off his co-host. “This is their country. They are citizens of the United States. Pete: He was talking in general of principles of countries.”

After Hegseth suggested he would be fine with people telling him to leave America, Rivera reminded him, “You can’t say that to me.”

“I’ve had 10 street fights based on that,” Rivera continued, “because [I am] ‘some Puerto Rican — go back where you came from.’ I was born on 17th street this is where I came from … Once you make nationhood and citizenship like that conditional on your political loyalties you run a very dangerous path there. You should know that.”

Hegseth concluded by insisting the minority lawmakers — all of which but one, Omar, who came to America at a young age, were born in this country — are showing “a lack of gratitude.”

“A lot of people are not grateful to be here,” Rivera replied. “Gratitude is not a requirement.”

On Thursday afternoon, a day after a Trump rally in Greenville, North Carolina in which Republican voters chanted “send her back,” the president disavowed the racist attacks, despite instigating the controversy with several “go back” tweets last weekend.

“I wasn’t happy with that message that they gave last night,” Trump told reporters while speaking at the White House. “It was quite a chant, and I felt a little bit badly about it. But I will say this, I did — and I started speaking very quickly. But it started up rather fast.”

In reality, Trump waited over a dozen seconds as the racist chant got progressively louder and more raucous.

Watch above, via Fox News.

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Caleb Ecarma is a reporter at Mediaite. Email him here: [email protected] Follow him on Twitter here: @calebecarma