Trump criticized the “fake news” media and Democrats at length, mentioning coronavirus funding and impeachment. “This is really above politics,” Trump then said of funding to combat coronavirus.

Pool entered Cabinet Room at 5:22 p.m., with participants already seated for their meeting with POTUS on empowering African-Americans (attendee list sent in previous pool report).

Trump mentioned his successes including the pardon of Angela Stanton-King and criminal justice reform. The group was well dressed (likely for reception to follow) and enthusiastic, breaking into frequent applause and chants of “four more years!”

Trump’s opening remarks were short, then he asked everyone at the table to introduce themselves. Everyone had praise for the president and for helping on issues of importance to them. A few, particularly Bruce LeVell and Candace Owens, had longer remarks critical of the media and Democrats.

“You lose a fortune being president,” Trump said, adding he gives up his $400K presidential salary.

Please check the transcript for quotes.

After introductions, Trump told the story of meeting with HBCU leaders each year because they had to come back to Washington to beg for funding. Trump said a bill just passed to provide 10 years of funding.

Trump then slipped into campaign mode, talking about a rally with “Pocahontas” with a couple thousand in the crowd, compared to his much larger rallies.

Trump mentioned the best black unemployment numbers, then moved to coronavirus, saying he got no credit from the media for containing it, claiming he was called a “racist” for closing off Asian countries. Said of the 15 people with coronavirus, just one is “quite sick” and the rest are recovering.

Mentioned gaffes by Biden, mixing up the names of states but said if he made such a mistake it would be career-ending. “I never get credit” for anything, Trump said.

Trump said his coronavirus press conference last night was quite good and calming. But Sen. Schumer said he was terrible.

“I think it’s an incredible achievement what our county’s done,” Trump said in the context of coronavirus. Trump said he took a lot of heat for closing the border but it turned out to be the right thing to do.

Trump criticized the “fake news” media and Democrats at length, mentioning coronavirus funding and impeachment. “This is really above politics,” Trump then said of funding to combat coronavirus.

Coronavirus will one day disappear, Trump said. The U.S. is working with other countries, and just 15 cases in the U.S. is a miracle, he said.

Trump noted the NBC reporter had left the room and called the network racist. The president then turned to the black vote, the 2016 election, and criminal justice reform.

At 6:21 the group gathered and stood behind Trump for a prayer.

Asked about the markets, Trump said the press is out of line, said the country is pulling together and Democrats should not make this a political issue.

The event ended at 6:23 p.m. Headed to reception now in East Room.

***

Pool entered the foyer at about 6:30 p.m. to the Marine Band playing Edelweiss. The East Room is packed with invitees sipping out of wine glasses, standing or sitting at small round tables with white floral centerpieces and dark green and gold tablecloths. 

There is a stage and podium set up at the far end of the room. This event is open press.

The White House sends the following:

Today, President Donald J. Trump will deliver remarks to the African American community, business, and faith leaders who have traveled from across the country to attend the National African American History Month Reception at the White House.

The Reception will recognize past, present, and future African American leaders who are examples of heroism, patriotism, and enterprise.  The President will not only display our national pride in African American history but will also showcase his Administration’s policies that continue to empower African Americans across our great country.

The following individuals are expected to attend:

The White House
President Donald J. Trump
First Lady Melania Trump

Trump Administration
Steven Mnuchin, Department of the Treasury
Secretary Alex Azar, Department of Health and Human Services
Secretary Ben Carson, Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary
Administrator Jovita Carranza, Small Business Administration

External Participants
Gertrude Jane Holliday Stone, Houston’s National African American Museum
Alphonso Hill Jr., Eagle Scout
Hundreds of African American leaders

The White House Press Pool

Produced by members of the White House Correspondents Association (WHCA), these brief Pool Reports track American president. The White House Press Pool is composed of the members of the White House...