President Donald Trump on Thursday asked April Ryan, an African-American reporter and longtime White House correspondent, if she would arrange for him a meeting with the Congressional Black Caucus.
Late in a rollicking and unexpected news conference, Trump took a question from Ryan, who asked about his campaign promise to revitalize the American urban centers he frequently described in bleak terms.
Trump responded first by telling Ryan that her question was “very professional and very good,” then claimed he received “a much higher percentage of the African-American vote than a lot of people thought” because of his attention to the “inner cities.”
When questioned on whether he planned to meet with the Congressional Black Caucus, a group of African-American lawmakers on Capitol Hill, Trump asked Ryan if she would organize it herself.
“I’ll tell you what, do you want to set up the meeting?” he said. “Do you want to set up the meeting? Are they friends of yours?
Ryan replied: “No,” adding that she was “just a reporter.”
“Set up the meeting,” Trump continued. “Let’s go, set up a meeting. I would love to meet with the black caucus. I think it’s great. The Congressional Black Caucus.”
After the news conference, Ryan tweeted that she is “a journalist not a convener! But thank you for answering my questions.”
In a subsequent interview with CNN’s Brooke Baldwin, Ryan said she would welcome an invite to cover a conversation between the CBC and Trump.
“But as far as facilitating that meeting or convening that meeting, that is not my place,” she said. “Every White House has someone to deal with this kind of meeting or this kind of bringing together of people … It’s up to that person in this White House to do that.”
Kamara Jones, a CBC spokeswoman, said the group sent Trump a letter — dated January 19 — inviting him to speak, but hasn’t heard back from the President or his team.
“We saw the exchange,” Jones said, talking about the news conference. “He hasn’t reached out to us. If he was serious about black issues, you would think he would reach out to the CBC.”
The caucus also addressed Trump on social media, writing in a tweet, “Hi, @realDonaldTrump. We’re the CBC. We sent you a letter on January 19, but you never wrote us back. Sad!”
Wisconsin Rep. Gwen Moore, a Democrat and CBC member, also responded to Trump’s remarks.
“Hey @realDonaldTrump: @AprilDRyan is a honest & professional reporter,” Moore said in a tweet. “She’s not your secretary. @Reince knows @RepRichmond’s number. Use it.”
By Gregory Krieg and Ashley Killough, CNN