DC Exclusives - Original Reporting

Trump Follows-Up: Reaches Out To Black Caucus For A Meeting

WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 16: U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference announcing Alexander Acosta as the new Labor Secretary nominee in the East Room at the White House on February 16, 2017 in Washington, DC. The announcement comes a day after Andrew Puzder withdrew his nomination. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

In response to a surprisingly personal exchange during a White House press conference Thursday, Donald Trump‘s team at the White House has contacted the Congressional Black Caucus for a meeting.

The ordeal sprouted from a question from American Urban Radio‘s White House correspondent April Ryan, an African American reporter who asked the President if he planned to include the CBC in his inner-city agenda.

“I would,” Trump replied. “I’ll tell you what, do you want to set up the meeting? Are they friends of yours?”

“No no no no, I’m just a reporter,” Ryan said, clearly startled by the President trying to involve her in arranging a political meeting with her apparently black friends. (Yikes.)

Ryan appeared on CNN’s Out Front Tonight with Erin Burnett to discuss the exchange.

“You know what Erin, I was really looking forward to an answer to the question,” Ryan told Burnett Thursday night. “It’s not about me and I’m not going to make it about me. There are issues in the black community that are way bigger than my feelings being hurt or what have you. I asked about the black agenda he said he wanted to fix urban America and inner cities.”

Ryan announced that the White House has reached out to the Congressional Black Caucus and they are trying to set a date and time. During his press conference, Trump said he has tried to reach out to CBC’s Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) for a meeting, but has been unsuccessful in solidifying one. He suggested that Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) — “a lightweight” — has probably been advising him against it.

In a statement, Cummings completely denied that he has been avoiding a meeting with Trump. He also said he didn’t understand why the President would “make up a story” like that.

During the evening segment, CNN Political Director Mark Preston defended Trump from accusations that he’s a racist.

“I don’t think he’s a racist or anti-Semitic, but I do think he’s reckless in his words,” Preston said.

Ryan chimed back in.

“There may need to be more sensitivity,” she said. “As a reporter in Washington 20 years, you’re gonna know people. I know people in the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. I know people in the Congressional Black Caucus. I also know white congressional leaders. I know congressional leaders who are Democrat. I know congressional leaders who are Republican. So I’m a reporter.”

Betsy Rothstein
the authorBetsy Rothstein
Born and raised in Akron, Ohio, Betsy has been covering and torturing Washington media for the past three years. Early on she studied journalism in England, interviewing punk rockers in Piccadilly Square who stole her notebook and ripped it up. After graduating from Union College with a B.A. in Spanish, she began her journalism career in Cambridge, Mass., working for a Cuban newspaper where she conducted man-on-the-street interviews. She asked Latinos about their love lives. “Do Latinos make better lovers or what?” She soon moved out west to Denver, where she worked for two rival Hispanic weeklies for one year each. Next stop: J-school at Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism, where she earned a master’s degree. In the years following grad school she worked at the Boca Raton News as a business reporter followed by a brief stint as a press secretary for former Rep. Robert Wexler (D-Fla.). She spent the next decade on Capitol Hill covering hard news, features and gossip for The Hill Newspaper. In 2009 she quit and moved to Portland, Ore. and wrote about the many long-haired men there who distinctly resemble Jesus. They weren’t all kind (one was fat and confrontational) but she got her story. Prior to joining TheDC, Betsy was the editor of FishbowlDC, a Washington media gossip blog.

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