President Donald Trump's administration and leaders of the Congressional Black Caucus have begun talks to set up a meeting following Trump's bizarre exchange Thursday (Feb. 16) with a black reporter at a press conference.
That exchange, in which Trump asked reporter April Ryan of American Urban Radio Networks if caucus members were friends of hers and demanded she set up the meeting, apparently did the trick when a five-page letter the caucus sent to Trump before his inauguration could not.
Hi, @realDonaldTrump. We're the CBC. We sent you a letter on January 19, but you never wrote us back. Sad! Letter: https://t.co/58KiuHmITF
-- The CBC (@OfficialCBC)
"President Trump has been in office for almost a month and the Congressional Black Caucus - which at a historic 49 members is almost a fourth of the House Democratic Caucus and represents millions of African Americans - did not hear from the White House until we introduced ourselves on Twitter after the White House press conference today," caucus chairman Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-New Orleans, said in a statement Thursday evening. "For whatever reason, the letter the Congressional Black Caucus sent to then President-elect Trump and incoming White House officials on January 19 was not enough to get their attention."
During the exchange, Trump had asked Ryan about the caucus: "They friends of yours?" Then: "Tell you what, do you want to set up the meeting? Do you want to set up the meeting? Are they friends of yours? Set up a meeting."
Ryan tried to explain she was a journalist and that it would be inappropriate for her to act as a go-between. The oddity of the exchange was enhanced because it immediately followed Trump's declaration that he was the "least racist person ever."
That Jan. 19 letter from the caucus laid out its members misgivings over Trump's statements about his approach toward African American neighborhoods.
Richmond's statement hinted that the White House had contacted the caucus after the press conference.
"Since the White House has reached out in an appropriate manner to request a meeting with the caucus, I am now in discussions with them about setting one up," he said.