President Donald Trump on Thursday asked an African American reporter at a press conference to set up a meeting for him with members of the Congressional Black Caucus, adding, “Are they friends of yours?”
The exchange began when April Ryan, White House correspondent and Washington bureau chief for American Urban Radio Networks, asked the president if he would hold meetings with black caucus members to help craft his urban development policy.
“Well I would. I’ll tell you what, do you want to set up the meeting?” Trump said. “Do you want to set up the meeting? Are they friends of yours?”
“No, I’m just a reporter,” replied Ryan, adding that she did know some members of the group.
“Set up the meeting, let’s go, set up the meeting,” Trump said. “I would love to meet with the black caucus. I think it’s great, the Congressional Black Caucus. I think it’s great.”
During the same rambling, bizarre press conference, the president claimed he is “the least racist person.”
Ryan is one of the longest-serving members of the White House press corps, and author of The Presidency in Black and White. Last week, she reportedly had a heated exchange with White House communications staffer Omarosa Manigault. “She stood right in my face like she was going to hit me,” Ryan told The Washington Post, referring to the aide.
Minutes after the press conference ended, members of the Congressional Black Caucus responded on Twitter to Trump’s exchange with Ryan.
The official account of the Congressional Black Caucus also tweeted at the president, saying it wrote him a letter in January, but never received a reply.
Ryan later said she hopes to cover any future meetings between the president and members of the Congressional Black Caucus, but added: “I am not a facilitator, I’m not a convener, I’m a White House correspondent.”