Following reporting on attendees honoring the late Rep. John Lewis whose body lies in state at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC, MSNBC " Morning Joe" host Joe Scarborough queried Associated Press White House correspondent Jonathan Lemire about Donald Trump's refusal to make an appearance and his reasoning.
According to Lemire, there was a big difference between what White House aides said in public and what they know to be the truth.
"I was on the White House lawn when we asked if the president was going to attend to pay his respects to the congressman lying in state at the Capitol, and he said no," Lemire recalled. "That took aides by surprise because there had been discussions about the president going over there at some point today, they thought that might be something he would want to do. We should note that Vice President Pence, who served with Congressman Lewis in the house, did go over there yesterday. "
"Did they provide any explanation why he is, in fact, doing something that no other president would do, Republican or Democrat alike?" Scarborough pressed. "Does he think going to see a civil rights hero, an American saint, does he think that would hurt him with white voters?"
"Publicly White House aides are saying it's the president's decision, privately there is some frustration," the AP reporter replied. "They do feel that the president is too mindful of that, the signal he might be sending to white voters. And also it's someone with whom he feuded before, we know how he holds grudges. We know that he did the same when Senator McCain died, he did not attend or pay his respects in any public way then either. He had to be convinced to put the flag at half-mast at the White House when Senator McCain died. For Congressman Lewis, it was put at half-mast but only half a day."
'You're right," he continued. "There's a growing recognition among his advisers, that they're going to lean into the cultural efforts, the preservations of the statues, confederate bases and the real push of law and order using federal troops in the cities, most notably Portland. It's part of a piece, a signal to white and suburban voters, the same ones he's trying to court there, we've seen out of the 1950s, a message to white families about black and brown families moving to the suburbs. To this point the polling has not suggested that's working."