The Congressional Black Caucus reportedly plans to skip out on a meeting with President Donald Trump because his administration hasn’t done enough to advance the group’s priorities.
Four sources close to the group told Politico about the lawmakers’ plan to decline the meeting, which was requested by the White House.
“No one wants to be a co-star on the reality show,” one senior Democratic aide reportedly said.
This marks a shift for the CBC, whose executive members participated in a meeting with the president in March. At the time, CBC Chairman Cedric Richmond (D-La.) struck a bipartisan tone, pledging to “keep advocating” for the CBC’s causes to the president.
Last week, the 49-member caucus received a letter from former reality TV personality Omarosa Manigault, who now serves as a White House aide, inviting them to meet with Trump.
“As requested by the president, we would like to schedule a follow-up meeting with the entire membership of the Congressional Black Caucus to discuss issues pertinent to your members,” she wrote in the invitation to the CBC.
Richmond is expected to make a statement about the invitation after it has been discussed during the group’s weekly meeting Wednesday. Sources with knowledge of the CBC’s thinking said a meeting with the president is “off the table.”
Some CBC members are concerned about the logistics of fitting nearly 50 lawmakers into a meeting with the president and making it meaningful in any way, while others fear the optics might give the impression that they are in any way supportive of Trump — an image they certainly don’t want to project.
Several members, according to Politico, were also perturbed by the fact that Manigault signed the invitation, “the Honorable Omarosa Manigault,” a title they felt she has not earned.
Richmond, for his part, called Trump “stunningly careless and divisive” in May, when the president issued a statement questioning the constitutional basis of federal funding for historically black colleges and universities. He said the program “allocate[s] benefits on the basis of race, ethnicity, and gender.”
“For a president who pledged to reach out to African-Americans and other minorities, this statement is stunningly careless and divisive,” Richmond and Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, said in a joint statement at the time.
On Tuesday, the CBC called on the White House to direct more resources toward investigating hate crimes against minorities. In a letter sent to the Justice Department, the Department of Homeland Security, and the FBI, Richmond referenced recent reports in Washington, D.C., of nooses hanging at the National Museum of African American History and Culture and American University.