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Trump, Sen. Tim Scott meet, talk race relations, Charlottesville

Emma Dumain and Anita Kumar, McClatchy Washington Bureau on

Published in News & Features

WASHINGTON -- After questioning the president's "moral authority" in his response to the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., Sen. Tim Scott thinks Donald Trump may now understand how he could have handled the episode differently.

Time will tell, however, just how far the South Carolina lawmaker's message resonated beyond the 40 minutes he spent with Trump in the Oval Office on Wednesday morning.

"My comment on his compromised moral authority was based on America's reaction" to his rhetoric after the Charlottesville violence, said Scott, the Senate's only black Republican. "I think a restoration of moral authority will be based on America's reaction and that will take time."

Scott told reporters were no moments of tension during the meeting with Trump.

He did say Trump "tried to explain what he was trying to convey" last month when he bemoaned violence on "many sides, many sides," rather than pointedly condemn the white supremacists and neo-Nazis who converged on the quaint college town to protest the removal of a Confederate statue. A counterprotester died during the melee and two Virginia state troopers died in a helicopter crash as they aided in the response.

"He simply was trying to convey ... that there was an antagonist on the other side," Scott said of Trump's criticism of the counterprotesters.

"My response was, while that's true -- if you look at it from a sterile perspective, there was an antagonist on the other side -- however, the real picture has nothing to do with who's on the other side," Scott continued. "It has to do with the affirmation of hate groups who over three centuries in this country's history have made it their mission to create upheaval in minority communities as the reason for their existence."

Scott said that while Trump mostly listened, he did express an understanding of the point the senator was trying to make.

"He shook his head and said, 'Yeah, I got it,'" Scott recalled.

Trump also cited other incidents involving racism and racial unrest in the United States over the past several months, comments that led Scott to believe the president was staying engaged. Scott also said Trump, who requested the meeting, stuck to the subject.

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