President Donald Trump reportedly scolded his senior aides after criminal-justice reforms passed under his administration failed to energize Black voters.
"Why the hell did I do that?" Trump said, according to administration officials who spoke with The Washington Post.
Trump has tried to boost his standing among Black voters, though polling figures show he is trailing Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden in terms of support.
President Donald Trump reportedly "went s---house crazy" after a criminal-justice policy he implemented failed to improve his polling numbers among Black voters.
"Why the hell did I do that?" Trump yelled at his senior aides, current and former administration officials told The Washington Post.
The legislation in question, called the First Step Act, aimed to tackle major racial disparities in the prison system that disproportionately affect Black people as a result of decades-long mass incarceration. Since the bill passed in 2018, about 4,700 incarcerated people have been released or had their prison sentences reduced, The Post reported on Wednesday.
Trump initially refused to support the initiative and changed his mind only when senior aides informed him it would better his weak standing with Black voters, according to The Post.
The move didn't have the intended effect, however, driving the president "s---house crazy," an ex-Trump administration official told the news outlet.
The Post also reported that Trump scolded his then-adviser Omarosa Manigault Newman for working to increase funding for historically Black colleges and universities because the move failed to garner support among Black voters. Manigault Newman served from the start of his presidency until December 2017.
"You've been at this for four months, Omarosa," Trump said, according to The Post. "But the numbers haven't budged."
Critics have said Trump works to benefit his reelection purposes, not the country. His former national security adviser John Bolton, for example, has previously said Trump has manipulated the powers of his office to increase his chances of winning a second term. Democrats have made similar allegations, which were key during the president's impeachment proceedings.
Trump has long fared poorly with Black voters, despite his attempts to appeal to the electorate. As a candidate, exit polling in 2016 showed he gained only 8% of their votes, compared with then-Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton's overwhelming majority of 88%.
Fast-forward to 2020, and that figure has remained largely unchanged. Recent polling by the Pew Research Center indicated that Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden had a nearly 89% lead over Trump among Black voters.
Still, Trump's reelection campaign has pursued new strategies to appeal to Black voters in recent months, such as launching Black Voices for Trump and featuring a handful of Black speakers at the Republican National Convention. And Trump has repeatedly claimed he has "done more for Black Americans" than any other president besides Abraham Lincoln.
These efforts, however, coincide with Trump facing criticism for his condemnation of Black Lives Matter protests and refusal to acknowledge systemic racism in the US. In a conversation with the veteran journalist Bob Woodward, Trump also dismissed the concept of "white privilege," adding that he felt no responsibility to better understand how Black people feel.
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