Leaked audio shows Trump touted low Black voter turnout in 2016: report

President Trump reportedly said at a private Trump Tower meeting days before his inauguration that lower turnout by Black voters helped him in the 2016 election, according to audio newly obtained audio first reported by The Independent.

“Many Blacks didn’t go out to vote for Hillary ‘cause they liked me. That was almost as good as getting the vote, you know, and it was great,” Trump, then president-elect, said in the audio of the meeting which was also confirmed in a report by Politico.

The meeting was reportedly held with members of the voting rights group the Drum Major Institute, founded by Martin Luther King Jr. and focusing on civil rights issues. Those in attendance included Martin Luther King III, William Wachtel, James Forbes, Johnny Mack and Scott Rechler. 

Tootsie Warhol, Wachtel’s former chief of staff, recounted the meeting to Politico and gave them the audio of the event meant to focus on voter ID laws and voting access. 

Warhol told the publication Trump started the meeting by name-dropping his Black friends and celebrities and showcased a collection of memorabilia including a sneaker that belonged to NBA star Shaquille O’Neal, Mike Tyson’s belt and his chair from “The Apprentice.”

“The first thing that I can never forget was how when you walked in, [Trump] name-drops all these Black celebrities and tries to give the illusion that they’re his friends,” Warhol told Politico. 

According to Politico, Trump’s first chief of staff Reince Priebus, senior adviser Jared Kushner and Omarosa Manigault attended the meeting as well. 

During the meeting, Trump praised the turnout of Black and Hispanic voters who supported his campaign.

As recently as May, Trump’s campaign has predicted growing support from both groups this November in the president’s reelection efforts. 

In another moment of the audio, Trump returns to the room after leaving for a phone call and tells the room it “was your friend [Former President] Barack [Obama]” and said they have “a very good relationship.” 
Trump later told the room he listens “better to the African American people than anybody else,” including those at the meeting. 
The comments aren’t far off from comments Trump has made in public at rallies and events. He has frequently touted the support of women who voted for him as well as Black and Hispanic Americans who supported his 2016 bid.
Before the 2016 election, Trump declared he would get 95 percent of the Black vote in 2020, and drew attention at another rally for saying “look at my African American over here” while pointing to a man in the audience.
In a statement to Politico, White House deputy press secretary Judd Deere said Trump is “grateful for his support among Black Americans, and their many contributions to helping make America great.”
“Donald Trump’s record as a private citizen and as president has been one of fighting for inclusion and advocating for the equal treatment of all,” the statement said. “Anyone who suggests otherwise is only seeking to sew (sic) division and ignore the President’s work for underserved communities.”
The newly revealed comments at the meeting focused on voter turnout comes as Trump is sharply opposed to expanding mail-in-voting, alleging without evidence it will lead to widespread voter fraud. Democrats argue, however, that the voting method is crucial to ensure everyone can vote safely during the coronavirus pandemic.
Updated 8:43 p.m.