President Trump on Wednesday received a history lesson that put his inflammatory reaction to violence at a white nationalist rally in perspective, according to Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.)
Scott, the Senate’s lone black Republican, sat down with Trump a month after saying the President’s “moral authority” was “compromised.”
Trump faced intense bipartisan backlash after blaming “many sides” for the violence at a deadly Charlottesville, Va., protest attended by Klansmen, white supremacists, neo-Nazis and anti-Semites.
The Oval Office face-to-face gave Scott a chance to confront the President and offer him an education in white supremacy.
“We had three or four centuries of rape, murder and death brought at the hands of the (Ku Klux Klan) and those who believe in a superior race,” Scott told reporters later at the Capitol. “I wanted to make sure we were clear on the delineation between who’s on which side in the history of the nation.”
The President said that he got the point, Scott said.
Asked if Trump can regain his moral authority, Scott responded, “That will take time.”
The White House issued a statement following the meeting, which included Vice President Mike Pence and other aides, that avoided mentioning Charlottesville or the President’s contentious comments.
The discussion focused on “the Administration’s relationship with the African American community,” the statement said.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders later added that Trump and Scott had an “in depth” discussion about the Charlottesville comments, “but the focus was primarily on solutions moving forward.”
Trump tried to clarify his words, telling Scott that he meant to convey “that there was an antagonist on the other side” — to which Scott replied, “The real picture has nothing to do with who is on the other side.”
Words, Scott told Trump, are “containers of power … and there is no more powerful voice than the President of the United States without question.”
“I think he understand that and echoed that in our conversation,” he added.
The pair also discussed Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett, who has accused Las Vegas police of using excessive force against him because of his race.
Last year, Scott delivered an emotional speech on the Senate floor about relations between the police and the African American community — and what it’s like to be stopped by a cop because of the color of your skin.
“There’s a deep divide between the black community and law enforcement, a trust gap,” Scott said in that speech. “I do not know many African American men who do not have a very similar story to tell, no matter their income, no matter their disposition in life.”