Published: Fri, February 17, 2017
U.S. | By Vera Richards

Trump, Rep. Elijah Cummings spar over meeting that never happened

Trump, Rep. Elijah Cummings spar over meeting that never happened

Members of the Congressional Black Caucus are expressing bafflement and dismay after President Trump asked a black reporter to set up a meeting with them. Trump asked April Ryan, White House correspondent for the American Urban Radio Networks who asked the question.

Ryan said on MSNBC that she would be happy to cover such a meeting between Trump and the CBC as a reporter. "Are they friends of yours?" he then asked.

"I'm sure", Ryan said. I would love to meet the Congressional Black Caucus.

It's hard to imagine Trump offering the same response if a white reporter had asked him the same question.

Ryan, who has been covering the White House for 20 years, tweeted immediately following the press conference, "I am a journalist not a convener!" He made a conjecture that Mr. Cummings could have been dissuaded by Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer or "somebody like that, some other lightweight". Cummings himself said the meeting was never called off, merely postponed for reasons having nothing to do with partisan politics.

Rep. Jim Clyburn of SC says there is "an element of disrespect" in Trump's comment to journalist April Ryan.

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"No, get us - set up the meeting", he urged.

Cummings, the top-Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee responding by arguing that Trump's characterization was "made up" and that he hopes the meeting - focused on the price of prescription drugs - will still happen.

Ryan has already been in the news recently after she ended up in a confrontation with Trump communications official Omarosa Manigault. "What I have been doing for the past several weeks is working closely with my partner on these efforts, Senator Bernie Sanders", Cummings said. "Of course, Sen. [Chuck] Schumer never told me to skip a meeting with the president". Prior to taking her question, the president told Ryan she was "very professional and very good". 'And that's part of the problem with this country'. The meeting, to discuss drug prices, was seemingly unrelated to the CBC.

The CBC responded on Twitter linking to a letter the group sent Trump on January 19 asking him to engage with it on his "New Deal for Black America".

Trump said he wants to focus on education, healthcare and crime in the inner cities and said that part of Chicago "is worse than nearly any of the places in the Middle East that we talk about and you talk about every night on the newscasts".

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