President Donald Trump doesn’t seem to think very highly of large segments of the American population, although since he’s the president, one would hope that he’d attempt to serve all Americans, not just his supporters. During a January 2017 meeting with civil rights leaders at New York City’s Trump Tower shortly before his inauguration, then-President-elect Trump called the 2016 election’s low turnout among black voters “great.” If that was the soon-to-be-president’s mindset — that low voter turnout among black Americans is “great” — then what’s to say that the same idea isn’t at least partially driving his recent campaigns against expanding mail-in voting? Expanding mail-in voting would specifically benefit some members of some disadvantaged communities, like some black Americans.
The 2017 meeting in question was held on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and it included leaders from the Drum Major Institute, which is an organization that advocates for voting rights and was co-founded by the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. himself. Trump claimed to those in attendance:
‘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.’
POLITICO obtained the audio from Tootsie Warhol, who served as chief of staff for the Institute’s William Wachtel at the time. At the meeting, those from the Institute were advocating for the placement of photos on Social Security cards, which could help keep folks who might not have other forms of photo ID from being essentially barred from the polls by restrictive legislation demanding photo ID in order to be able to cast a ballot. The Republican Party has been behind many attempts to restrict access to the ballot box in that fashion.
At the January 2017 meeting, Trump also claimed to have won 11 percent of black voters, but POLITICO notes that exit polls indicate that Trump only won the support of 8 percent of black voters in the 2016 election. That’s not where his lies ended, though — he also understated the levels of black support earned by 2008’s Republican presidential nominee John McCain and 2012’s GOP nominee, Mitt Romney, who got the support of just 4 percent and 6 percent of black voters, respectively.
Referring to his own showing among black voters, Trump said:
‘Sounds lousy, but Romney was 4 percent; McCain was 3 percent. 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.’
Notably, Trump claimed at the same meeting that he had “a very good relationship” with then-outgoing President Barack Obama — which is in stark contrast to the reality of Trump’s years of peddling racist conspiracy theories suggesting that Obama may have been born outside the U.S. Trump also claimed that he “always liked” then-Georgia Democratic Congressman John Lewis, who has since passed away. Just days before, in response to criticism from Lewis, Trump had claimed that the then-Congressman was “all talk… no action,” which is ridiculous. Lewis was a leader and frontlines participant in the Civil Rights Movement.