President Donald Trump asked a black journalist on Thursday if she would set up a meeting between his administration and the Congressional Black Caucus.
“Are they friends of yours?” Trump asked April Ryan, the Washington bureau chief for the American Urban Radio Networks.
The president’s comments came after Ryan asked whether Trump would include the CBC in conversations around his urban policy agenda.
“When you say the inner cities, are you going to include the CBC, Mr. President, in your conversations with your urban agenda, inner city agenda?” Ryan asked.
Trump responded, “Well, I would. I’ll tell you what, do you want to set up the meeting? Do you want to set up the meeting?”
Ryan responded that she would not do that as she’s “just a reporter,” to which Trump replied, “No — set up the meeting. Let’s go set up a meeting. I would love to meet with the black caucus. I think it’s great.”
The CBC responded on Twitter linking to a letter the group sent Trump on January 19 asking him to engage with them on his “New Deal for Black America.” The group said he has not responded to the letter.
Ryan, who has been covering the White House for 20 years, tweeted immediately following the press conference, “I am a journalist not a convener! But thank you for answering my questions.”
Interviewed on CNN following the conference, Ryan said she did not know why the White House had not responded to the CBC’s request for a meeting and that, “as far as facilitating that meeting or convening that meeting, that is not my place.”
Also in response to Ryan’s question about meeting with the CBC, Trump said that Rep. Elijah Cummings had called off a meeting with the president because he had been advised by prominent Democrats that it would be “bad politics.” The meeting, to discuss drug prices, was seemingly unrelated to the CBC. Cummings denied cancelling the meeting in a statement released following the press conference.
“I have no idea why President Trump would make up a story about me like he did today,” Cummings said. “I also sincerely have no idea why the president made this claim in response to an unrelated question about the Congressional Black Caucus. I am sure members of the CBC can answer these questions for themselves.”
Leading up to the exchange with Ryan, Trump said he would be “working very hard” to “fix” the inner cities, claiming that many black and Hispanic communities are “living in hell.”
“There’s one Chicago that’s incredible, luxurious and all, and safe,” Trump said. “There’s another Chicago that’s worse than almost any of the places in the Middle East.”
Trump’s exchange with Ryan came minutes after he claimed to be the “least racist person” in response to a reporter’s question about rising incidents of anti-Semitism across the country. Trump called the question “very insulting” and accused the reporter of being unfair.
Trump sparred repeatedly with reporters through the press conference, during which he accused the “out of control” media of covering his administration unfairly.
Reporter: Will you meet with the Congressional Black Caucus?
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