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Cummings, Congressional Black Caucus push back on Trump remarks

Eric Garcia, CQ-Roll Call on

Published in Political News

WASHINGTON -- Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, D-Md., says President Donald Trump is making things up when he said he backed out of a meeting with the president.

Trump, answering a question at his Thursday news conference about whether he would include the Congressional Black Caucus in his agenda for inner cities, went off on a tangent about how he was supposed to meet with Cummings but that the Maryland Democrat decided against it because of politics.

"He was all excited, and then he said, 'Oh, I can't move. It might be bad for me politically. I can't have that meeting.' I was all set to have the meeting," Trump said. "You know we called him and called him and he was all set. I spoke to him on the phone, very nice guy."

The reporter, April Ryan, then said she heard Cummings wanted to have that meeting, too.

"He wanted it," Trump responded. "But we called, called, called. They can't make a meeting with him. Every day I walk in, I said, 'I would like to make a meeting with him because I do want to solve the problem.' But he probably was told by Schumer or somebody like that -- some other lightweight -- he was probably told ... 'Don't meet with Trump. It's bad politics.' And that's part of the problem in this country."

Cummings says that simply didn't happen. After the news conference concluded, he pushed back and said Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer did not instruct Cummings to do any such thing.

"I have no idea why President Trump would make up a story about me like he did today," Cummings said in a statement. "Of course, Sen. Schumer never told me to skip a meeting with the President."

Cummings said he was actually looking forward to meeting with Trump to talk about the price of prescription drugs, which he had been collaborating with Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., on and he noted Trump had supported their efforts.

"My goal was to finalize our proposal to allow (the Health and Human Services Department) to negotiate lower drug prices so I could present it to the President," Cummings said. "The President has said many times that he supports this proposal, so I wanted to have our bill ready to get his support."

Before his statement about Cummings, Trump did respond positively to the idea of discussing issues in inner cities with the CBC, and asked Ryan, who is African-American, if she would set the meeting up.

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