Politics & Government

After questioning Trump’s ‘moral authority,’ Sen. Scott to meet with president

President Donald Trump plans to meet Wednesday with Sen. Tim Scott, who questioned the president’s “moral authority” after Trump’s response to the Charlottesville violence.
President Donald Trump plans to meet Wednesday with Sen. Tim Scott, who questioned the president’s “moral authority” after Trump’s response to the Charlottesville violence. AP

Weeks after Sen. Tim Scott suggested Donald Trump's "moral authority" was "complicated" by the president’s response to the recent violence in Charlottesville, the Senate's only black Republican will meet with the president to discuss the incident and race relations in the United States.

A source with knowledge of the meeting confirmed to McClatchy that the South Carolina senator will sit down with Trump at the White House Wednesday.

In August, a group of white supremacists and neo-Nazis rallied in the Virginia college town to protest the removal of a Confederate statue, resulting in clashes with counter-protesters that culminated in the death of a young woman and two state troopers.

Trump's immediate response was to condemn the violence on "many sides, many sides.” Two days later, he admonished the hate groups by name – but the day after that, he was defiant at a press conference, saying all factions in Charlottesville were to blame for the violence. He belittled the growing movement to take down monuments of Confederate heroes.

During a press conference about infrastructure held at Trump Tower on Aug. 15, President Donald Trump said that “both sides,” including the “alt-left” were to blame for the violent rally in Charlottesville, VA.

Scott did not hold back in his criticism.

By drawing a "moral equivalency" between the white supremacists and the counter-protesters as Trump had, Scott said last month, "I think you are either missing four centuries of history in this nation or you are trying to make something that it’s not."

The source with knowledge of the meeting said Scott will talk to Trump not only about the Charlottesville response but will also share his perspective on current events as an African-American.

It won't be the first time Scott has engaged with members of the Trump administration on issues of race. As Attorney General Jeff Sessions battled accusations of racism during his confirmation hearings, Scott invited his then-Senate colleague to North Charleston to meet with local leaders. Scott met with Sessions again in August following Charlottesville as the Justice Department weighed its own response.

For Black History Month back in February, Scott accompanied Trump to the National Museum of African American History and Culture for a tour of the collection.

Scott has also been engaging with the administration on Historically Black Colleges and Universities, or HBCUs, which Trump has sought to bolster as an outreach to the black community. A conference on HBCUs is scheduled to be held September 17-19 on the White House campus, though some black leaders had called for the event to be canceled after Trump's comments on Charlottesville. A new director is expected to be named soon, probably on September 18.

It would not be surprising if Scott and Trump also discuss HBCUs and the coming conference at their meeting Wednesday.

Emma Dumain: @emma_dumain

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