‘Are they friends of yours?’: Trump asks African-American journalist to help set up meeting with Congressional Black Caucus

President Trump used part of his rambling news conference Thursday to reaffirm his campaign pledge to help revive the nation’s struggling inner cities, including Chicago.

But there was an awkward moment when Trump was asked by April Ryan, a longtime White House correspondent for American Urban Radio Networks, if he would meet with the Congressional Black Caucus on his inner city agenda.

“Do you want to set up the meeting?” Trump asked Ryan, who is black. “Are they friends of yours?”

“I’m just a reporter,” Ryan replied, appearing flummoxed.

“Set up the meeting,” Trump replied. “Let’s go. … I would love to meet with the black caucus.”

Ryan later wrote on Twitter that it wasn’t her role as a reporter to help Trump organize government meetings.

The unusual encounter came after Trump decried the ongoing situation in Chicago, a city long stricken by gun violence. After one of the bloodiest years on record in 2016, the pace of shootings has not slowed in the new year. More than 400 people have been shot and over 70 killed so far in 2017, including three men who were shot and killed this week alone, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Speaking to reporters Thursday, Trump invoked residents who live in areas where they “lock themselves in apartments, petrified to leave in the middle of the day.”

“There are two Chicagos,” he said. “There’s one Chicago that’s incredible, luxurious, and all… and safe. There’s another Chicago that’s worse than almost any of the places in the Middle East that we talk about and that you talk about every night in the newscasts.”

He called the situation “hell” and insisted he had “great people” lined up to help fix the situation.

After the press conference, the Congressional Black Caucus wrote on Twitter that it had already requested a meeting with Trump, and that the president had not responded.

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President Trump. (Photo: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)
President Trump. (Photo: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)