WASHINGTON, Sept 3, 2016 (AFP) – A black televangelist who has been a campaign surrogate for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has admitted he “overstated” his accomplishments in a biography posted on his church’s website.
Mark Burns walked off the set of a CNN interview that aired Saturday after being confronted with questions about claims made on the website about his educational background and military service.
The website page has since been pulled down.
Burns issued a statement Friday declaring he was being attacked “because I am a black man supporting Donald Trump for president.”
He admitted, however, that “as a young man starting my church in Greenville, South Carolina, I overstated several details of my biography because I was worried I wouldn’t be taken seriously as a new pastor.”
In the CNN interview, Burns acknowledged he had not graduated from North Greenville University as stated on the church website page nor was he admitted to a historically black fraternity, Kappa Alpha Psi, as claimed.
Other discrepancies raised in the CNN interview were that Burns served in the South Carolina National Guard, not in the army reserves as the website said, and that he had enrolled but never advanced in a master’s program at Anderson Theological Seminary.
Burns spoke at the Republican National Convention in July on behalf of Trump, and has since made appearances as a surrogate for the New York billionaire, who is currently on a charm offensive to win over black voters.
Burns had to apologize last week after posting a cartoon of Trump’s Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, in blackface, offending African American voters.