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In an appearance Friday on MSNBC’s “Live with Hallie Jackson,” former Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele was asked if he thinks President Donald Trump is racist, following his reported remarks on Haiti and African countries.

“Yeah, I do,” Steele replied. “At this point…the evidence is controvertible.”

Steele further opined that Trump uses race as a tool “to move people emotionally to a space where he wants them to be to get a reaction out of them.”

“There are a whole lot of folks like Donald Trump,” Steele said. “White folks in this country who have a problem with the browning of America…When they talk about [wanting] their country back, they are talking about a country that was very safely white, less brown and less committed to that browning process.”

An outspoken Trump critic, the former RNC chairman has been known to say that the US “no longer has a moral compass” under Trump’s leadership.

Steele’s comments followed a Thursday meeting with a bipartisan group of lawmakers, in which Trump referred to immigrants from Haiti and African countries as coming from “shithole countries.”

Trump also reportedly said the U.S. should bring in more immigrants from countries like Norway.

In a statement, the White House did not deny Trump’s “shithole” comments, but Friday morning, Trump denied saying “anything derogatory about Haitians other than Haiti is, obviously, a very poor and troubled country” and said that while he used “tough language” in the meeting with lawmakers, “this was not the language used.”

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), who was present in the meeting with Trump, said the president’s denials were “not true” because Trump “said these hate-filled things, and he said them repeatedly.”

Trump’s comments drew backlash from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, media figures and foreign governments, many of whom accused Trump of racist behavior.

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