"Douglass is an example of somebody who's done an amazing job and is being recognized more and more," Trump said of the 19th century abolitionist.
Donald Trump held a "listening session" today in order to commemorate the first day of Black History Month. He was joined by some of his black supporters, such as Dr. Ben Carson and Omarosa, both of whom have positions within Trump's executive branch. Trump gave a speech about the important role African Americans have played in US history, and he also took the time to call out the media -- or the "opposition party" -- and specifically CNN, referring to the outlet as "fake news."
Trump sang the praises of those who were seated at the table with him, and he credited Ben Carson with helping familiarize him with the black community. "I'd go around with Ben to a lot of places that I wasn't so familiar with. They're incredible people," he said, referring to African Americans.
Dr. Carson, a retired neurosurgeon and Republican candidate in the recent presidential election, is Trump's nominee to lead the Department of Housing and Urban Development. "Nobody's going to be better than Ben," Trump said today.
As noted in the below tweet from J.A. Adande, Trump spent more time extolling his supporters than he did icons of black history, such as Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, Harriet Tubman, and Frederick Douglass, each of whom he briefly mentioned. "Douglass is an example of somebody who's done an amazing job and is being recognized more and more, I notice," Trump said of the abolitionist and writer who died in 1895.
He did have a bit more to say about the statue of Martin Luther King Jr. that sits in the Oval Office by reminding his audience of when, on Inauguration Day, TIME magazine's White House correspondent sent out an incorrect report that Trump had removed MLK's bust upon taking over the presidency. The reporter corrected his mistake and issued an apology on the same day, but Trump still took the time to fume about the incident during today's speech.
"And it was never even touched," Trump said of the statue. "So I think it was a disgrace, but that's the way the press is. It's very unfortunate."
Trump also praised Dr. Darrell Scott, a black pro-Trump pastor from Cleveland, and Paris Dennard, a black Republican CNN commentator, both who were present at the listening session. He thanked Dennard for doing "an amazing job in a very hostile CNN community," though he went on to admit that he does not watch the cable news network. "I don't watch fake news," he said, referring to CNN.
"But Fox [News] has treated me nice, wherever Fox is, thank you," he continued. With regard to anything relevant to forthcoming policy initiatives, Trump said he plans to "work very hard on the inner city," and he specifically mentioned stepping up law enforcement. "We're going to make it safe," he said of the "inner city." "We're going to make it much better than it is right now. Right now it's terrible."