Black Republicans are fuming about a closed-door meeting between top Trump aide — and former contestant on The Apprentice — Omarosa Manigault and a largely Democratic-leaning group of black civil rights leaders and clergy.
According to BuzzFeed’s Darren Sands, a group of black Republican activists and party loyalists are now feeling snubbed over not being invited to what is being billed as an “African American Listening Session.”
The meeting was set for Wednesday morning. The transition team did not release a list of guests or groups that would be in attendance, but the lack of an invitation has left some black Republicans annoyed. They feel that their loyalty in sticking by Trump over the course of a difficult 15-month campaign should be rewarded.
Some are worrying that this is not a good sign regarding the nascent Trump administration’s willingness to include them in shaping its agenda and policy goals.
Sands said that two individuals close to the transition team said that the confab was put together by Manigault, who intends to work in the Trump White House as a public engagement liaison.
Bishop Harry Jackson of the Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, Maryland said that he found the absence of prominent conservative black voices at the meeting worrisome.
“I have to say I was a little put off in the beginning because I’m looking around going, ‘Where are all the black conservatives?’” Jackson said. “But then I thought that since Ken Blackwell was there, they can easily get that perspective.”
However, other black Republicans who spoke with Sands expressed deep disappointment and refused to comment on the record for fear or political reprisal.
“None of the black Republicans reached for this story would speak on the record about the situation for fear of reprisal from Trump, the transition team — but mostly Manigault, who has handled most of the transition team’s outreach to black groups,” Sands said.
Two sources who spoke with Sands said that they’d long had misgivings about Manigault, a former staffer in the Pres. Bill Clinton White House. Repeated meetings with her, they said, demonstrated that Manigault “didn’t understand their approach to politics.”
ABC News reported early this week that the meeting would be attended by the CBC, 100 Black Men, and the NAACP — all largely Democratic-leaning groups.
“The root issue is black Republican have no leverage in the party outside of personal relationships,” said former Jeb Bush campaign staffer Charles Badger. “It’s because everyone knows black Republicans aren’t representative of most black folks. So the assumption — often true, but sometimes not — is that there’s not the depth of relationships there. So if you want to talk to black folks, are you going to go to black Republicans or through the NAACP, Urban League, black Greek letter organizations, clergy, etc., groups with wider reach.”