A political ally of Donald Trump, who launched an extraordinary racist outburst at Barack and Michelle Obama, has apologised saying he made the comments during an “emotional moment”.
Carl Paladino, who served as Mr Trump’s New York campaign co-chairman, was among 42 Buffalo residents asked for their wishes for 2017 by the local paper ArtVoice.
He responded that he hoped President Obama “catches mad cow disease after being caught having relations with a [cow]”.
Asked who he’d most like to go away in 2017, Mr Paladino answered Michelle Obama, adding: “I’d like her to return to being a male and let loose in the outback of Zimbabwe where she lives comfortably in a cave with Maxie, the gorilla.”
He also said he wished Mr Obama’s African-American political adviser Valerie Jarrett would be “decapitated” by a Muslim jihadist after being “convicted of sedition and treason”.
In an apology posted to Facebook, Mr Paladino claimed he meant to send the list to his friends, not the paper.
Describing the comments as “deprecating humour”, he said he received the email survey from ArtVoice at an “emotional moment” as recent events took place in Aleppo, Syria.
“I never intended to hurt the minority community who I spent years trying to help out of the cycle of poverty in our inner cities. To them, I apologise,” said Mr Paladino, who was the Republican Party’s candidate for New York governor in 2010.
“I filled out the survey to send to a couple friends and forwarded it to them not realising that I didn’t hit ‘forward’ I hit ‘reply.”
“I was wired up, primed to be human and I made a mistake.”
Mr Trump’s team condemned the remarks but did not comment on Mr Paladino’s future within the transition team. He was spotted meeting with the President-elect at Trump Tower earlier this month.
“Carl’s comments are absolutely reprehensible, and they serve no place in our public discourse,” the transition team said in a statement to the Washington Post.
During the 2016 election campaign, Mr Trump faced accusations of racism, particularly after comments he made about Mexican Americans during his campaign launch.
Mr Paladino’s apology comes as the President-elect prepares for his inauguration on January 20.
The ceremony is likely to be the most challenging in recent history for US security agencies, according to The New York Times.
“At this point, the biggest concern is the number of potential protesters and how that impacts the inauguration, especially the parade itself,” Major General Bradley Becker, a military official, told reporters.
The cost of security for the event is expected to top $100 million.
Preparations have also been dogged by reports performers have been reluctant to appear at the event.
An unnamed Radio City Rockette told Marie Claire that some of her colleagues were distraught that the troupe had been asked to perform at the inauguration.
“If I had to lose my job over this, I would,” the dancer said.
“It’s too important. And I think the rest of the performing arts community would happily stand behind me.”
Despite the ongoing transition controversies, Mr Trump continues to roll out new appointments to his administration.
On Tuesday morning (US time), he picked Thomas P. Bossert, as his homeland security adviser, a role that encompasses counterterrorism issues.
His recent appointment to the position of Health Secretary was welcomed by the American Medical Association, but also sparked a protest petition signed by more than 5000 doctors.
The doctors were concerned by Dr Tom Price’s opposition of ObamaCare, which aimed to expand coverage of health care for Americans.