On Friday (June 18), an excerpt from Wall Street Journal White House reporter Michael C. Bender’s upcoming book, Frankly, We Did Win This Election: The Inside Story of How Trump Lost, was published in POLITICO Magazine. The excerpt expands from Trump’s 2020 campaign efforts to his response to the murder of George Floyd on May 25.
In the excerpt, Bender writes that Trump blamed his son-in-law and top advisor Jared Kushner for his failing campaign and inability to reach Black voters.
“I’ve done all this stuff for the Blacks — it’s always Jared telling me to do this,” Trump said to a confidant last Father’s Day. “And they all fucking hate me and none of them are going to vote for me.”
Bender writes that early in 2020, Trump was gaining favor among African American voters through criminal justice and drug sentence reform, incentivizing investments in poverty-stricken areas and supporting HBCUs by canceling over $300 million in loan debt and funneling $250 million in federal funding. Bender also says Trump received “secret” advisory phone calls from Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson.
However, that all changed after Floyd’s murder at the hands of Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. Bender says Trump “looked repulsed” and “contorted his face” while watching the viral video of Floyd’s brutal murder.
“This is fucking terrible,” he reportedly told his team.
Trump also allegedly recalled stories of police brutality in Queens, telling his team, “I know these fucking cops. They can get out of control sometimes. They can be rough.”
Bender writes, “Trump’s assessment struck some in the room as surprisingly critical of police, and the president showed a level of empathy for Floyd behind closed doors that he would never fully reveal in public. Had he tried, it might have helped dial down the tension. But Trump didn’t see it as part of his job to show empathy, and he worried that such a display would signal weakness to his base.”
Bender says Trump’s compassion “quickly evaporated” after anti-police brutality protests swept across the nation. He infamously tweeted at the time, “These THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd. When the looting starts, the shooting starts.”
According to Bender, Trump also considered attending Floyd’s funeral, but was advised against it by Jackson, since he had only briefly spoken with Floyd’s family since his death.
The next month, Trump was planning to get back on the campaign trail and scheduled a rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma on Juneteenth. Bender writes that Trump was surprised by the backlash and didn’t realize that his White House staff had been sending out press statements commemorating the holiday for the past three years. After rescheduling the rally, Trump told Bender that “nobody had heard of” Juneteenth and that he made it “very famous.”