Near the end of his wide-ranging press conference Thursday, President Donald Trump took a question about meeting with the Congressional Black Caucus.
The caucus, which was founded in 1971, currently has 49 members of the House and Senate. Caucus members represent 78 million Americans, including 17 million African-Americans, according to the caucus.
“You want to set up the meeting? Do you want to set up the meeting?” Trump asked April Ryan, White House correspondent for the American Urban Radio Networks who asked the question. Ryan is black. “Are they friends of yours?”
Ryan replied that she did not want to set up the meeting.
“No, I’m just a reporter,” she said. “I know some of them.”
“Set up the meeting. 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, I think it’s great,” Trump said.
“It is my sincere hope that you will accept this invitation to engage in an earnest effort to work together on these issues,” concludes the letter, which was signed by Rep. Cedric L. Richmond, the chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus.
Trump said had tried to set up a meeting with Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Maryland), a member of the caucus. Trump speculated that Cummings was told a meeting would be bad for the congressman.
“We called, called, called, they can’t make a meeting with him. Everyday, I walk in and say I want to meet with him,” Trump said. “I do want to solve the problem ... He was probably told ‘don’t meet with Trump, it’s bad politics,’ and that’s part of the problem in this country.”
Cummings denied the story. He said he was trying to meet with the president about the “skyrocketing price of prescription drugs.”
“I also sincerely have no idea why the President made this claim in response to an unrelated question about the Congressional Black Caucus. I am sure members of the CBC can answer these questions for themselves,” Cummings wrote.
Trump said he wants to focus on education, healthcare and crime in the inner cities and said that part of Chicago “is worse than almost any of the places in the Middle East that we talk about and you talk about every night on the newscasts. So we’re going to do a lot of great work on the inner cities.”