After issuing a polarizing statement regarding the white supremacist rallies in Charlottesville, President Trump set up a meeting to “explain” with the only African-American Republican in the Senate—Senator Tim Scott.
Scott is a conservative who had previously encouraged Trump to meet with influential African-Americans to better understand their culture. Scott has also expressed revulsion with Trump’s response to the rally that resulted in the death of Heather Heyer.
The topics of the history of racism in the United States and how both sides were not to blame were on Scott’s agenda for the meeting. The senator wanted to illustrate the history that lead to this rally, explaining that it “has to do with the affirmation of hate groups who over three centuries of this country’s history have made it their mission to create upheaval in minority communities as their reason for existence.” According to the New York Times, when asked if Trump expressed regret, Scott reported that the president only “tried to explain what he was trying to convey.”
However, the senator did express surprise that the President listened attentively for the duration of their meeting, speaking only to raise questions.
The two also discussed topics like funding for urban and rural areas and focused primarily on “what we can do to bring people together, not talk about divisions within the country.” Unfortunately, it is unclear if the Oval Office’s intentions were to institute real change or simply improve their image after such a blunder. Even though Scott disapproved of the President’s response to Charlottesville, could be a valuable asset to boost Trump’s race relations as he has served as an accessible liaison between government and the African-American community for years.
This meeting between the Senator and President was an effective short-term cleanup for Trumps offense, but most question its long term effects and still considers Trump’s response to the riots a “fireable offense.”