(CNSNews.com) – President Trump met with Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), the first African-American elected in the South since Reconstruction, about the administration’s relationship with the African-American community on Wednesday.
The White House said the two discussed “improving race relations and creating a more unified country.” The meeting was described as “very productive.”
“This was a very productive meeting that the president and the senator both wanted to have - something to discuss potential solutions moving forward to bring the country together -- a focus on unity, also talking and touching on some of the priorities for the legislative agenda moving into the fall,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said during the White House press briefing Wednesday.
“President Trump remains committed to positive race relations and looks forward to continuing the dialogue with Senator Scott, the African American community, and leaders from diverse communities across the country, all of which have a wealth of perspectives and experiences with respect to this issue,” Sanders said later in a statement.
As CNSNews.com previously reported, Scott criticized the president’s handling of Charlottesville last month, saying Trump had “compromised” his moral authority.”
“As we look into -- look to the future, it`s going to be very difficult for this president to lead if, in fact, that moral authority remains compromised. He went into office -- sometimes you have positional authority, and that is very hopeful, but the reality of it is this nation responds to moral authority, when we believe that our president has the entire nation`s best interests at heart,” Scott said at the time.
When asked whether Scott expressed his displeasure with the president’s initial reaction to Charlottesville, Sanders said, “Not at all. They talked about it pretty in depth, but the focus was primarily on solutions moving forward, and that was what both people came to the meeting wanting to discuss, is what we can do to bring people together, not talk about divisions within the country.”
“After meeting with Senator Scott, has the president’s mind changed at all about that initial statement? Should he have been more forceful? And will he sign this bipartisan resolution condemning the violence in Charlottesville as well as hate groups like the KKK and neo-Nazis?” a reporter asked.
Sanders said Trump “was clear in his initial statement that he condemned hatred, bigotry, racism of all forms. He continues to stick to that message. He’s been very consistent in that fact. He and the senator talked about that and discussed that, and agreed that that was the appropriate place to be.”
Sanders said the president will “absolutely” sign the joint resolution condemning the violence in Charlottesville, Va.
“In terms of whether or not he’ll sign the joint resolution, absolutely, and he looks forward to doing so as soon as he receives it, which he hasn’t done as I came out here earlier,” she said.
When asked whether the president understands what troubled Scott regarding his response to Charlottesville, Sanders said, “They had a very open and honest conversation and committed to continuing those conversations and making sure that today was just the first step of many of those meetings where I think that will be an ongoing process and ongoing conversation that they have.”
Sanders said there was no discussion about historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) during Scott’s meeting with the president.
When asked whether they discussed having a high-ranking black Republican within the administration who knows issues and understands how Washington works, Sanders said, “There’s certainly conversations about adding additional personnel that can tap into the African American community. That did come up, yes.”
When asked where that conversation went, Sanders said, “A commitment to absolutely work with Senator Scott to look -- to do exactly that, and for the two of them to continue to have those conversations, for his viewpoints to continue to be expressed directly to the president.”
“Specific people didn’t come up,” she said.
Sanders said the president and Scott also talked about tax reform and committed to staying “in constant contact with one another, and having a pretty open and regular conversation.”