Joe Biden made Juneteenth a federal holiday earlier this week, something a member of the Donald Trump administration had apparently wanted to do as late as last year. But according to a new report about Trump’s troubled history of race relations, he thinks he’s done a lot for a group he apparently called “the Blacks” in private.
That quote and much more was part of a damning story in Politico from Michael C. Bender, who wrote a book about Trump that will come out later in the summer. The quotes included in the piece were based off the book, and if that’s any indication of what else is looming there it will be a wild ride.
The biggest moment that went viral on Twitter was Trump using the phrase “the Blacks” in a conversation about how much he apparently had done for Black people in America, even though he was struggling with people of color when it came to election polling.
Trump had staked nearly his entire campaign in 2016 around a law-and-order image, and now groaned that the criminal justice reform that Kushner had persuaded him to support made him look weak and—even worse—hadn’t earned him any goodwill among Black voters.
“I’ve done all this stuff for the Blacks—it’s always Jared telling me to do this,” Trump said to one confidante on Father’s Day. “And they all f—— hate me, and none of them are going to vote for me.”
The story details how Trump had very few people of color on his staff, including no one on his senior staff after Omarosa Manigault Newman was fired in 2017. And another staffer had actually been planning a proposal for Trump to make Juneteenth a federal holiday before he sparked an uproar by scheduling a rally on Juneteenth in the wake of a summer of racial justice protests.
His relationship with Juneteenth was a trouble spot as well, with Trump essentially claiming that he put the long-celebrated anniversary of the end of slavery in Texas on the map.
“Nobody had heard of it,” Trump told me.
He was surprised to find out that his administration had put out statements in each of his first three years in office commemorating Juneteenth.
“Oh really?” he said. “We put out a statement? The Trump White House put out a statement?”
Each statement, put out in his name, included a description of the holiday.
But such details were irrelevant to him. Instead, he insisted, “I did something good.”
“I made Juneteenth very famous,” he said.
The piece covers a wide range of missteps when it comes to Trump’s understanding of race relations, policing and the concerns of people of color in society. Senior officials quoted in the piece called his “understanding of slavery, Jim Crow or the Black experience in general post-Civil War as vague to nonexistent.” And while he apparently expressed sympathy for the police treatment of George Floyd in private, he failed to replicate those thoughts in public instead of his more hardline, pro-police stance with inflammatory tweets that only stirred up more outrage.