United States President Donald Trump reportedly told civil rights leaders at a private Trump Tower meeting days before his inauguration that lower turnout among Black voters helped him win the 2016 election, according to leaked audio obtained by Politico and the Independent.
“Many Blacks didn’t go out to vote for Hillary ‘cause they liked me. That was almost as good as getting the vote, you know, and it was great,” Trump reportedly said during the meeting.
The meeting, which was reportedly meant to center on voter ID laws and voting access, was held with members of the voting rights group the Drum Major Institute, founded by Martin Luther King Jr. Martin Luther King III, William Wachtel, James Forbes, Johnny Mack and Scott Rechler attended the meeting.
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Tootsie Warhol, Wachtel’s former chief of staff and now an activist, provided Politico with the audio recording of the meeting.
“The first thing that I can never forget is how when you walked in, (Trump) name drops all these black celebrities and tries to give the illusion that they’re his friends,” Warhol told Politico.
During the 45-minute-meeting, Trump reportedly praised the turnout of Black and Hispanic voters who supported his campaign.
“And we did well with the Hispanics and we did well with women. You know, the women were gonna abandon me, but we did well with them,” Trump reportedly bragged.
At a point during the meeting, Trump reportedly left to take a call and when he returned he told the attendees, “Off the record, that was your friend, Barack (Obama). We actually have a very good relationship. I said he did a great job last night on ’60 Minutes,’ and, uh, we actually have a very good relationship.”
Trump further told attendees at the meeting that he listens “better to the African American people than anybody else,” including those at the meeting.
Analysts are not really surprised about Trump’s alleged comments, considering how he has regularly bragged about the support he received from women as well as Black and Hispanic Americans in 2016.
The recent audio leak comes as Trump raises issues with expanding mail-in-voting, claiming it will lead to widespread voter fraud. Democrats are not against the method, saying it is to ensure people vote safely amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Republicans have filed lawsuits against some states attempting to go with mail-in voting, and analysts have warned that their move could keep many people from voting this fall, particularly Black people, and others at high risk from Covid-19.
Meanwhile, in a statement to Politico following the leaked audio, White House deputy press secretary Judd Deere said Trump is “grateful for his support among Black Americans, and their many contributions to helping make America great.”
“Donald Trump’s record as a private citizen and as president has been one of fighting for inclusion and advocating for the equal treatment of all,” the statement said. “Anyone who suggests otherwise is only seeking to sew (sic) division and ignore the President’s work for underserved communities.”