Los Angeles city council member Kevin de Leon is speaking out amid scrutiny that has kept him from making public appearances for months. He is one of four local politicians embroiled in an ongoing controversy that has led to three resignations and protests calling for the resignation of defiant De Leon.

In a year-old audio recording leaked in October, De Leon and his colleagues could be heard making profane and offensive remarks about black people, Oaxacans, Jews, Armenians and other groups, as well as discussing how to redistrict the city for their own benefit.

De Leon has kept a low profile since the leak but showed up to a council meeting last week, which he left shortly after arriving as the other members started shouting at him. The meeting almost immediately went to recess. Later that night, De Leon was captured on video grabbing and pushing a protestor at a holiday party. Both the politician and the protestor have filed reports of battery against each other.

In the new interview with CNN, de Leon addressed the recent city council meeting where his colleagues hurled criticisms at him and forced his departure.

“I came on Friday to get back to work,” he said. “The past two months I’ve been taking a lot of reflection, working with my constituents as well as having conversations, not just with my constituents in the district but with constituents or folks outside the district. In particular, the African American community.”

Anchor Kate Bolduan asked De Leon why, while the other city officials involved had resigned, he refused to step down.

“They say that the city cannot heal if you are still there,” Bolduan said of the active council members. “And one member saying that your continued presence on the council is causing severe and ongoing harm.”

De Leon responded that “the voters make the decision, not folks who are in the peanut gallery.”

“Tens of millions of Americans go to work every single day with folks that they don’t like,” he continued. “But you know what they do every morning? They get up and they go to work, and they don’t have the luxury, perhaps that some folks do when they want to walk out.”

He continued on to say he wanted to work for his constituents as he’d done prior to the scandal. After saying he was “profoundly sorry” for not “shutting down the vitriolic comments” made at the initial meeting, the reporter noted that he was not only there, but that he “took part in the conversation,” specifically that he “compared the young black child of a fellow councilman to an accessory, like a luxury handbag.”

De Leon insisted that the conversation was “much more nuanced,” prompting Bolduan to replay the audio in question. He then apologized again, saying he was not criticizing the child, but rather the councilwoman for having a “penchant for luxury handbags.”

“I shouldn’t have said that, clearly,” he said.

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