Earlier this afternoon President Trump held a roundtable discussion on the topic of race relations with black leadership. Participating administration members included Ja’Ron Smith, Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy Director of the Office of American Innovation and Secretary Ben Carson, Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Joining the administration team was: Wayne Dupree, Host, The Wayne Dupree Show; Raynard Jackson, President and CEO, Raynard Jackson & Associates, LLC; Sonnie Johnson, Host, Sirius XM’s Sonnies Corner; Lawrence Jones, Host and Contributor, Fox News; Pastor Darrell Scott, Chairman, Urban Revitalization Coalition, Inc; and Kareem Lanier, Co-Chairman, Urban Revitalization Coalition, Inc. [Video Below]
It’s an excellent conversation.
[Transcript] – THE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you very much. We’re with friends of mine and members of the African American community, and we’re going to be talking about law enforcement, education, business, health, and various other things.
As you know, tomorrow, we’re going to Dallas. We’re going to start our rallies back up now. We’ve had a tremendous run at rallies. I don’t think there’s been an empty seat in — since we came down in the escalator with the First Lady. That was with the future First Lady, at that point. It’s been an amazing thing to behold.
And we’re going to be starting our rallies. The first one, we believe, will be probably — we’re just starting to call up — will be in Oklahoma — in Tulsa, Oklahoma. A beautiful, new venue — brand-new. And we’re looking forward to it. They’ve done a great job with COVID, as you know, in the state of Oklahoma. We’re going to be coming into Florida — do a big one in Florida, a big one in Texas. They’re all going to be big. We’re going to Arizona.
We’re going to North Carolina at the appropriate time. The governor is a little backward there. He’s a little bit behind. And unfortunately, we’re going to probably be having no choice but to move the Republican Convention to another location. That’ll be announced shortly. But we’ll have no choice. We wanted to stay in North Carolina very badly. We love it. It’s a great state. A state I won. Many, many friends. Many relatives, frankly, that live there. And we’ll see how it all works out, but the governor doesn’t want to give an inch.
And what he’s lo- — doing is losing hundreds of millions of dollars for his state. But we’ll probably have no other recourse but to move it to another state. We have a lot of states that want it: Texas, Georgia, Florida. We have many, many states that want it. But we’ve given them everything we can — North Carolina, a special place — but I think we’re going to probably end up giving you an announcement pretty soon.
We are doing well in so many ways. You see what’s going on with Nasdaq; we just broke another record yesterday. Some good news came out of the Federal Reserve today, I think — some very good news. We’re really doing a financial comeback. The jobs numbers were fantastic.
Now, we’ll have some other job numbers come up over the next few weeks, and we’ll see how that goes. But I think it’s really good, and we’re on our way to a very big comeback.
I’d like to ask some of the folks that I’m with today to say a few words. They’ve been really supporters and friends of mine. They understand life. They understand, I think, the black community better than anybody I know. And I will tell you, Ben Carson is an example of exactly what I’m talking about. He’s been my friend from the first day we met, I think.
SECRETARY CARSON: Yeah.
THE PRESIDENT: And we met — we were opponents, but we were never really opponents. Ben is a very exceptional guy. He’s done a fantastic job at HUD. But I’d like to maybe start with Ben to say a couple of words, and go to Darrell and the rest of us.
Let’s say a few words to the press, if you would, please. Ben.
SECRETARY CARSON: Thank you, Mr. President. We’re here obviously to talk about some of the concerns in the black community that have risen to a point that, you know, people all around the world are making their voices heard.
This is an opportune time to do something about it because this administration has already established a record of actually solving problems — problems that other people just talk about and then talk about for many years.
And I am delighted, Mr. President, that you have made it a priority to solve this problem. And we’re all going to be helping with that process. There are many others out there — people of goodwill. You know, there are some who just wait for anything to criticize it, but there are actually some people who actually want to see a solution. And I’ve had a chance to talk to many of them. We’ll continue to do that — put forward the kinds of programs that actually get people out of poverty, not things that just keep people stable in poverty and happy in poverty. We want to change that whole dynamic.
And I think some of the things that have already been done, we will get back to those quickly. You know, this was an intentional stopping of the economy — of an amazing economy. The fundamentals of that economy are still in place. We will recoup that and we will move further on.
And your philosophy, of course, has been that a rising tide floats all boats. And that’s why you don’t spend a lot of time with identity politics. We want everybody to be successful.
THE PRESIDENT: That’s right.
SECRETARY CARSON: And we’re going to do everything we can to help you do that.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, as I’ve been saying, Ben, I think that the economy will be — next year, will be maybe the best it’s ever been. You can already see it with the stock market, how it’s been going up, because you have a lot of smart people that are betting on exactly what I’m saying. The stock market is almost as high as it was prior to the plague floating in from China.
It was a plague that floated in from China. Now they’re learning that it may have been much earlier, which bears out exactly what I’ve been saying. You saw that word yesterday — that it may have come in a lot sooner than we were told.
A friend of mine is Darrell Scott. And he’s a great guy and he’s got a tremendous heart. At the same time, he’s a tough cookie. I think that’s what maybe attracted me to him, unfortunately. I didn’t get attracted to the good parts, but that’s a good part, too. (Laughter.)
Darrell, say a few words, please.
PASTOR SCOTT: We’re here today — and thank you, Mr. President, for allowing us to come — our nation is at a juncture where we’re facing another challenge, but this administration has become used to challenges. It’s been one challenge after another. And we’ve pressed pause, but we’re ready to press play now and continue in the positive initiatives regarding the black community.
You know, Mr. Trump called me in November of 2016, right after the election, right after he won. And he said to me, “What do you want?” And I said, “What do you mean?” He said, “Well, I mean, you’ve been working real hard. Is there anything that you want?” And I said, “I want to be a liaison from the black community to the Trump administration and a liaison to the black community from the Trump administration.”
Since then, we’ve worked on criminal justice reform, we’ve worked on urban revitalization, prison reform, a number of initiatives that are — HBCUs — a number of initiatives that are proactive towards the black community.
And here we are now, and we’re facing another challenge, and we’re going to come up with some great solutions to these problems that are confronting this country. And I’m just glad to have a seat at the table and to have my input received.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, your input has been very important, Darrell.
PASTOR SCOTT: Thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: You know that. And it is true: I’ve known Darrell a long time. He didn’t want anything. What he wanted was just to have a voice so he can make certain positions known. And he’s done that very well — better than anybody I can think of.
Another great voice in the black community is Wayne. Wayne, you’ve been my friend for a long time. Wayne Dupree. His show is a phenomena. It’s a great success. And people listen, and they respect what you have to say.
Go ahead, please.
MR. DUPREE: Well, my name is Wayne Dupree. I met President Trump when he was a businessman. As a matter of fact, he — he’s given me five interviews: two of them in person, three on the phone. And when you’re talking about somebody who is not with the mainstream media — somebody who just has a small voice but has a desire to make changes with his voice — to reach out to a billionaire in New York, and without hesitation, he gave me those interviews. And I think he’s a natural leader.
And I — I mean, honestly, I have supported him ever since he decided to run for President. As a matter of fact, we interviewed him the month before he came down the escalator, and he said, “Well, Wayne, you know, we’re going to have a big announcement next month.” And I said, “Well, you know, you can do it here on the show if you really want to.” (Laughter.)
But, I mean, I’m glad that he has changed things here in D.C. I just — but my daughters and my son and my family, they want to see a lot more positive things coming from the White House. They — they want to see your leadership, and they also want to see things change for the better in this country. I know you can do it. I know you can do it.
THE PRESIDENT: We’ll do it. We’ll do it, Wayne.
Go ahead, please.
MR. JACKSON: My name is Raynard Jackson. And thank you, Mr. President; thank you, Darrell, for inviting us to this roundtable here. I’m from St. Louis originally, and live in Virginia.
But what I’d like to say to you, Mr. President, is kind of
off the beaten path. I’d like to say to all the media assembled here that I wish they would quit lying about what you’ve done, specifically for the black community.
So you got radical liberal journalists, like Joy Reid from MSNBC, Don Lemon from CNN, Roland Martin, who are putting more poison into the black community than any drug dealer, who are killing more black folks than any white person with a sheet over their face. How are they doing it? Spreading these lies about the economy you had, Mr. President, before the virus, was the continuation of Obama. That’s just factually not true. I have a degree in accounting. I keep up with the economy. They’re lying.
So to all these folks on MSNBC, CNN, Roland Martin: What? Are you afraid to have real black Republicans who know what the hell they’re talking about? If you want to know the truth, if you want us to dissect the Obama economy, let’s do it. And I think, Mr. President, your record would win the debate.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. And, you know, it’s interesting you say that, but you go down the list of criminal justice reform and all of the things we’ve done — Opportunity Zones; the best unemployment rate in the history, just before the plague came in. And it’s going to be back again soon. I think it’s going to be back again, a lot sooner than people think. I think last week was a reflection of that — the jobs numbers.
But you look at all of the things we’ve done. We’ve now worked on prison reform — so important — and so many other things.
But when you look at the economics, when you look at how well the black community has been doing under this administration, nobody has done anything like we’ve done.
And a big thing is criminal justice reform. I keep hearing about, “Oh, criminal justice reform,” and everyone is trying to take the credit. And that one, I will say, we will take the full credit because they couldn’t have done it without us. And I’m not sure, frankly, that the previous administration tried. They may have, but they certainly couldn’t get it done.
And the people that came into my office really — really asking very nicely for help. These people that are supporters of mine. But once we got it, they took the full credit for themselves, and that’s okay too. But we got done criminal justice reform and all of the other things.
I think that one of the — one of the elements that people aren’t talking about are the Opportunity Zones that we did with a great senator. Your friend from South Carolina, right? We did it with Tim. And it was his idea. And it was a big idea, it was a bold idea, and it’s worked much better than at our wild — in our wildest dreams, we couldn’t have thought that that was going to happen.
So we did many, many things, and we’re going to continue to do many things. One of the elements that I talk about is — and I was telling this to Darrell before — that 42, 44 people would come to see me every year: the heads of the historically black colleges and universities. And they would come up here, and I got to actually know them.
And the first year they came, I thought it was a normal meeting. They were asking for a lot of money, which they were having a hard time getting from previous administrations, and we got it for them. The next year they came back, I said, “Oh, what are you guys back for?” He said, “Well, we want the money again.” I said, “Aren’t we working long-term deals?” “No.” And you got the money. And then the third time, I said, “I see. You come…” So they made you for years — many years — for decades, they had to come back, keep coming back, keep coming back. Not like a lot of others. “Will they get it?” And they kept coming back and asking for money.
And I said, “What’s this all about? Why do you have to come every year? Why don’t we make a longer-term deal?” And we made, I think, a 10-year deal. And they were all funded up, and they were all set. And that’s historically black colleges and universities. And they play a tremendous function.
I got to be friendly with some of them. I won’t tell you what some of them said — how bad it was about the past administration and past administrations. But they were treated very, very badly, and I treated them very good.
So they don’t have to come back. I said, “The only bad thing is I won’t see you people anymore, maybe for a long time.” (Laughter.) And they were okay with that. You know, they can — now they can focus on what they really do, which is education.
So we’ve done a lot for the black community, and we’ve done a lot for all communities. And it’s a great honor to have you folks with us. And thank you very much.
Did you have anything to say, by the way, fellas?
Please, go ahead.
MS. JOHNSON: So, my name is Sonnie Johnson. I’m the host of “Sonnie’s Corner.” I am probably the most Trump-ish out of everybody in this room, so you’re — you’re going to have to forgive me. The black community is not doing okay. Like, I understand the perspective and the desire to put out this talking point, but it’s not. Okay?
And I can do it in a simplistic way of just saying: What are the first things you did when you first came into the presidency? The very first things you did was, like, remove regulation and taxation at high levels. Think about the black community that has been under Democratic rule, progressive rule for 60 years. How many rules, how many regulations, how many different forms of taxation are on the books in those areas that are preventing our communities from actually being able to see sustainable growth that we can keep and get ourselves out of this (inaudible) of generational poverty?
We are not okay when it comes to thing like education because we are not able to get quality choice into our communities because we don’t have any position or power within our school boards to be able fight for those things, and not just to get charters in, but to also bring some kind of reformation to the public school system as it stands too.
So, yes, as well as criminal justice reform, and a lot of other things, as well as health and things we can put down on the list. All of these things have been under Democratic control for 60 years. And they are not going to change until you — we have a Republican Party that is willing to go into these communities and actually offer a choice to these people about how we can do things differently. Because the way it is structured now, the only choice that we get is “left” or either “further left,” and we’re not getting the opportunity to actually vote on what we look at as “conservatism,” equally applied.
The very basic economic principles that we, on the right, say are significant in our success and seeing the success in our country — those are not being offered at the local level in black communities.
So, basically, we’re asking to grow out of concrete because we don’t have the fertile soil in these areas to make everything flourish and bloom the way my generation would like to see it.
So I think the numbers and statistics about my generation are not going to be out for 20 years. You’re not going to see that we have started to change the dynamic within families, we have started to change the dynamic within marriage, we have started to change a lot of the negative dynamics that are still brought up in statistics today, involving us.
Our generation is working on making sure those things change. And nobody looks at us and sees the power we have to be effective in making change, this generation, and not just waiting for the next layer of statistics to come out.
So until we can actually get honest dialogue, on the right, out into the ether, then you’re going to keep on having, you know, the fake-news media spread lies because we aren’t there giving another choice as to how these things can be done. And it’s going to continue to go left if we aren’t there, given an option to make it go right.
And that’s, like, the biggest thing that we are having trouble with on the right, is, like, understanding how government works. We are a republic. That means local government has the most power over citizens’ lives, as well as how to take that and put it into a cohesive message that can be spread to the black community that will already engage upon what we already know.
And we looked at, like, the photos of you before you became President. And you were taking pictures with Snoop, and you taking pictures with all of the icons of hip hop. You did that, I think — and you can tell me if I’m wrong — but you did that because you saw capitalists, you saw branders, you saw entrepreneurs. You saw people that were willing to take a chance and make things grow. That is — that is us. That is the black community.
And I would like to see a challenge from you to see how many in the black community can put their names on the side of a building coming out of this. If we’re really going to reshape and reform the way that we do this, issue that challenge, because that’s what we need more now than ever. And we need it to be focused and centric on the black community, not into letting people come in and gentrify areas that are traditionally ours.
THE PRESIDENT: And you don’t need closed police departments.
MS. JOHNSON: No.
THE PRESIDENT: Do you agree with that?
MS. JOHNSON: No, we — we need the police. But if you take a take a (inaudible), if you take a look at what happened in Ferguson — because Ferguson is, like, where Black Lives Matter really came out. I ain’t going to say it was born because, you know, people will fight about that. But if you go back and you look at Ferguson, the DOJ did a report on Ferguson, and what came out of that report was that the mayor’s office was using the police force as a taxation unit. So they were forcing interactions between police and the citizens as a way for them to raise money and bring money into the mayor’s office. That was causing over-policing.
So it is not the fault of the police, nor is a part — the fault of the citizenry what the legislator and the executive branches of city government are putting — are putting into legislative practice.
THE PRESIDENT: Very good. Well — well stated.
Wayne, what do you think? Good job?
MR. DUPREE: (Inaudible.)
THE PRESIDENT: I think a very good job. Good job. Thank you. Thank you, Sonnie. Appreciate it.
Fellas, go ahead. Please.
MR. SMITH: Well, you know, she — she said a lot of the things that — (laughter) —
THE PRESIDENT: She said a lot. (Laughter.)
MR. SMITH: — I don’t know if I can say it any better than that, but just that a lot of these things are systemic. I think what we’ve done, through your leadership, is start to break down that system and fight back. You know, Opportunity Zones, HBCUs, criminal justice reform, those are reversing some systemic issues.
vAnd — and through your leadership now, we’re looking at other layers of that, because we just saw what’s — what COVID shined a spotlight on: on access to capital. It shined a spotlight on health disparities. And then, recently, with the — the protest, how can we create better police and community relations.
But one thing we’ve — we’ve done over the last couple of weeks is listen to individuals, and now we have solutions. And those are things we’re going to continue to work through as an administration, because it’s about results. And I think a lot of people are leaning on you because you’re result-oriented. It’s not about just us talking here; it’s about what we’re going to produce out of this meeting.
MR. DUPREE: And you know what? That’s the thing: A lot of people that listen to the show, or calling on the show, they want to see those results. If you go into the black community and you tell — tell people a type of statistics, they go, “Oh, okay — yeah, great.” But if you show ground-moving, ground-shaking, things — things growing up from the bottom, you know, that — those Opportunity Zones, or more jobs — or more jobs than what they are right now — but if you start showing those things and, you know, a little friendly drive-through, “Hey, President Trump here,” they — believe me, there are many people that are on these online boards and, like I said, the call-ins and whatnot — they do support President Trump. They know what happened in the — in the Obama administration. They know what you’re doing. They also see what the media is doing to you. So don’t think that you are alone. It’s just that they need to hear more from you.
THE PRESIDENT: I agree with that. That’s true. It’s the only way you get through the media because the media is almost 100 percent negative. It’s incredible.
MS. JOHNSON: But that’s not the only thing that’s impeding the progress of the legislation that you put out. So let’s take Opportunity Zones: If the Opportunity — Opportunity Zones pass from a federal level, they then go down to the state and then are allocated on a local level.
So for us as black people to actually access the Opportunity Zones, I have to go talk to Democrats. And I have to be willing to do what they want to do under their agenda, how they want it done, for me to be able to have access to the Opportunity fund — Opportunity Zone funds.
So that’s where, when you see in our communities, instead of getting young blacks to invest and become entrepreneurs and become owners, you’re getting gentrification, because outside forces with more money and connections to these Democrats are able to come in and get this money a lot faster than the black people that it was actually intended to help.
And so you’re seeing this changing of our community, where at no point in time are we allowed in the process to become a part of it and maybe be the innovators of what the future could look like.
Because that is what you really have coming out of a black community: a desire to be an innovating force about what our communities look like in the future, where we have been handed policy or we have been handed government for so long, and now you now have a population that says we want to use the government as a republic, localized government to invent what our — reinvent what our communities look like.
And, yes, it will include police. It will include schools. It will include all the necessity of civilization, but it will also include more investment, ownership, and entrepreneurship from the citizens in those communities.
SECRETARY CARSON: You’ll be happy to know that this administration has recognized that problem. The community development, financial institutions, the credit unions, the local banks have been excluded from a lot of the dissemination of the funds previously. That’s been recognized —
THE PRESIDENT: That’s right.
SECRETARY CARSON: — and is in the process of being corrected right now.
THE PRESIDENT: Okay.
MS. JOHNSON: And that goes a long way.
MR. LANIER: Mr. President, you’ve been nothing short of historic for black America. I don’t say that because I have to, because I can say whatever I want to say as a free citizen here in the U.S. You’ve been nothing short of historical. Criminal justice reform was historical. We were getting locked up at unprecedented rates. You undid the 1994 crime bill, and we are forever thankful for that. Even the Opportunity Zones, we can be critical of a lot of things, but the Opportunity Zones — incentivizing people that have money to put the money where we needed most, which are in these urban and rural neighborhoods. HBCUs. The whole — I can go down thing after thing.
The current issue that we’re having right now is police reform, which is so much needed. We did criminal justice reform, but police reform is the gateway to what we see as an unjust criminal justice system sometimes. Meaning, if a crooked cop, doesn’t do a terrible, corrupt thing with an individual, we never get into that bad system.
This administration has been marred by a crooked cop like James Comey, and others going after you, and creating — creating things that just were not there. The impeachment was — it was — it’s just not real, but they can do that. And our community has been affected by that in a way that it’s hard to explain.
I tell people this all the time, this whole situation with this policing, it’s not new to black people. We’ve been used to it. As a kid, I got harassed by the police all the time and I was a good — I was — I think I was a good kid. (Laughter.) But it was a part of — it’s a part of our community.
And so we do need some things to happen on the police-reform side, which will connect with the great things you’ve already done historically with criminal justice reform. And we know that you’re the President to get it done.
We know that we need some banking reform so that we can get more access to capital. We do also understand that we need some holistic approaches to create this ecosystem. Voting rights: Blacks have to go to get voting rights every 25 years or something.
These are things that are historic, and we believe that you are the President to get these things done for the black — the black community. You’ve done some great things for us already, and we’re relying on you, and we appreciate everything you’ve done, Mr. President. You’ve been amazing.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Thank you very much.
MR. LANIER: You’re welcome.
THE PRESIDENT: That’s beautiful. Well said.
vYour friend, right?
PASTOR SCOTT: Yeah.
THE PRESIDENT: He’s a good — he’s a good man, too. For a long time we’re known him.
Okay, thank you all very much. And we’ll see you tomorrow. We’ll see you tomorrow in Dallas. Thank you.
Q I wanted to ask you about tomorrow.
THE PRESIDENT: Yeah, we’re going to a place called Dallas tomorrow. I think it’s going be a great trip. Meeting some very good friends. And we’ll come back tomorrow night.
We’re going on Saturday, as you know, to West Point. We’re giving the commencement address, which will be very exciting. The cadets wanted that very much. So we’re going to have them a little bit separated, a little social distancing, but we have the full class at West Point. And it was postponed because of the problem. It was supposed to be a month ago. We’re going to do it. And that’ll be on Saturday.
So that’ll be very exciting. And I think a lot of you are going to be with us. And we’re going to pay honor, really, to those incredible students and cadets. And they’re going to be the future military leaders of our country.
Thank you all very much. Thank you.
Q When are you going to Tulsa, sir?
THE PRESIDENT: Friday night. It will be Friday — Friday night.
Q Of next week?
THE PRESIDENT: Next week.
Q Thank you.