Trump Bragged About Low Black Voter Turnout, Disparaged John Lewis in Meeting With Black 'Leaders' in 2017

Martin Luther King III shakes hands with President Donald Trump after meeting with him on Martin Luther King Jr. Day in 2017.
Martin Luther King III shakes hands with President Donald Trump after meeting with him on Martin Luther King Jr. Day in 2017.
Photo: Drew Angerer (Getty Images)

New details have emerged from a meeting of so-called leaders in the Black community and then President-elect Donald Trump ahead of his inauguration on Martin Luther King Jr. Day in 2017.


Audio obtained by The Independent reveals that during the meeting —which was attended by Martin Luther King III, son of the civil rights icon—Trump made no efforts at all to hide his racism.

“I listen better to the African-American people than anybody else. Anybody else in this room,” Trump said at the time, according to The Independent.

In the room was King, Dr. Rev. James Forbes, and William Wachtel—the son of Harry Wachtel, a white businessman and civil rights advocate who was an ally of the elder King in the 1960's.

Though the younger King said after the meeting that it showed him Trump intends to support voting rights for all Americans, the audio tells another story.

“Many blacks didn’t go out to vote for Hillary [because] they liked me — that was almost as good as getting the vote,” Trump reportedly said, making it clear he knows that Black people not voting supports his chances of winning.


He also went on to ramble about hundreds of thousands of people illegally voting in California and Florida. It doesn’t appear as if those in the room called out any of this racism and outright lying.

Apparently they were more interested in calling out actual civil rights icon, the recently deceased former Rep. John Lewis, and listening to Trump disparage Lewis for seeing the orange one for exactly what he is and choosing not to attend his shoddy inauguration and kiss his ring.


From the Independent:

As transition staffers who were present — including Director of African-American Outreach Omarosa Manigault Newman — tried to discuss plans for February 2017 Black History Month celebrations, Trump raised the topic of John Lewis and the media attention given to his decision not to attend the upcoming inauguration.

“I got treated very badly by John Lewis… I always liked him but then all of the sudden he came out with this thing, and of course, sleepy eyes Chuck Todd plays it up, you know, big,” he said.

Trump then asked the group what they thought of Lewis. Wachtel responded: “This is us?”

After Trump replied in the affirmative, Wachtel opined that the veteran congressman was ”bitter” and suggested that he might be “doing the bidding of others” by not attending the inauguration.


The audio of the shit-show was recorded and recently provided to The Independent by Wachtel’s ex-aide Theodore Mukamal, who was also in attendance.

“You’re dying from laughing inside, but you can’t laugh because you’re in a serious place,” Mukamal said of being there for the shit-show.


I’m laughing so I don’t start crying at the idea that these are our leaders—men who would throw their people, their fathers’ principles, and their self-respect out the window for the opportunity to stroke the ego of Donald Trump.

Join the discussion! The Root is hosting its first-ever, virtual Root Institute, presented by Target, featuring several of the leading minds in our community talking about politics, culture, health, community building and social impact. Subscribe for updates today!



The pictures of the “men” that showed up to Trump Tower to greet him need to be used in an ad. Ray Lewis, Kanye and sellout supreme Jim Brown all bowed to that man and acted like he was really interested in being a leader for all. Christ thinking about sitting in that room while he disparaged John Lewis makes my blood boil. Fuck anyone that was there and fuck all the coons and Sambo’s that have tried to curry favor with him ever since. Harriet would’ve done more than leave your sorry asses behind she would’ve shot you.