Since Donald Trump launched his presidential campaign, one of the questions that has dogged him is whether he is racist. Russell Simmons has known Donald Trump for three decades. The hip-hop pioneer and entrepreneur said Trump has been an "amazing" and "very kind" friend, endorsing his books, attending his shows and hosting him and his family at Trump's Florida estate.
But, according to Simmons, Trump also said things that "seemed a little racist," "anti-Semitic," and "Islamophobic."
About a year ago, Simmons wrote an open letter to Trump, saying Trump was not fit to be president and had made "disparaging statements about the Muslim community." In an interview with Fortune on Friday, Simmons, who is chairman of the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, an organization that promotes religious tolerance, elaborated on those thoughts.
He recalled visiting a mosque "five or six" years ago with Trump and several rabbis. “[Trump] was very kind when he met the imam,” he told Fortune on Friday. “But he had said some things that were hurtful.”
He didn't specify what was said, but also mentioned he heard “some anti-Semitic” comments.
Simmons said he would "laugh off things [Trump] said that were off color and didn't represent my viewpoints" because at the time, Trump was a business personality and entertainer -- not someone running for the highest office in America.
"He's a very likable person," he said. "I just don't think he is a suitable person for the presidency."
Fortune reached out to the Trump campaign for comment. We will update this post with any response received.
Check out the video above to hear Simmons’ thoughts on Trump and the election.