Rep. Cummings asks Trump to soften talk about black communities

PHOTO: Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md. speaks to members of the media outside the West Wing of the White House in Washington. PlayAP
WATCH Rep. Cummings asks Trump to soften talk about black communities

Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Maryland) said Wednesday that he used his meeting at the White House with President Trump on prescription drug prices to also address the president's past rhetoric about black communities.

Speaking to reporters outside the West Wing after his meeting, Cummings -- who is a senior member of the Congressional Black Caucus -- said he told the president that his language about African-American neighborhoods and inner cities had been "hurtful."

"I said I don’t know if anybody has ever said this to you, but most African Americans are doing pretty good," Cummings said. “And when we hear those words about carnage and we're living depressed situations, I told him that it was very hurtful to people.”

In speeches and public comments, Trump has frequently portrayed inner city America and many African-American communities in bleak terms.

In a pitch for black voters on the campaign trail in August, Trump rhetorically asked African-Americans what they “have to lose" by voting for Trump. "You live in your poverty, your schools are no good. You have no jobs. Fifty-eight percent of your youth is unemployed," Trump said at the time.

Cummings, a longtime resident of Baltimore, said he urged the president to acknowledge that not all African-American-majority neighborhoods are “places of depression [and] where people are being harmed.”

The Maryland representative also said he told Trump that he believed voter fraud -- which the president has often raised -- is "all but nonexistent." He said that any "reasonable investigation of voting in the United States" should instead include an acknowledgment of voter suppression.

The president "seemed to get it" on both issues, Cummings said. "Now where he goes from there I don't know, but I could not come out of this meeting without raising those issues."

But the primary reason for Wednesday's meeting was to discuss prescription drug prices, a policy area where Cummings and the president have expressed potential common ground.

Along with Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vermont), Cummings presented Trump and Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price with a proposal that would allow Medicare to better negotiate drug prices.

Cummings said Trump "was clearly aware of the problem and he made it clear to us that he wanted to do something about it."

For his part, Trump tweeted a positive review of the meeting late Wednesday.

In a subsequent summary issued Wednesday evening, the White House said the meeting stemmed from a "desire to work with Congressman Cummings in a bipartisan fashion to ensure prescription drug prices are more affordable for all Americans, especially those who need lifesaving prescription medications."

The statement did not mention Cummings’ comments about Trump’s language regarding African-American communities or voting.