White House counselor Kellyanne Conway met with about 100 ambassadors on Tuesday, including many from African nations that President Donald Trump reportedly called “sh**hole” countries.
In the wake of Trump’s comments that created a diplomatic firestorm in Africa, many of the African ambassadors in attendance expected Conway to address the matter, but instead she only talked about Trump’s agenda, and didn’t mention anything pertaining to Africa.
The meeting that took place at the Blair House in Washington, D.C. was part of a speaking series organized by the State Department’s Office of the Chief of Protocol. Invitations were sent to all members of the diplomatic corps in Washington, D.C. Conway, who coined the term, “alternative facts,” previewed Trump’s State of the Union address and focused on his achievements in his first year in office, according to Foreign Policy (FP).
But her talk left some African ambassadors “confused and bewildered, according to two people in attendance and two sources briefed on the meeting,” FP reports, as the Trump administration hasn’t directly addressed the offensive comments reportedly made in the meeting on immigration Jan. 11.
Just days prior to Conway’s talk, Trump sent a letter to the African Union (AU) on Jan. 25 regarding its 30th annual summit, where he said, “The United States profoundly respects the partnerships we share with the African Union, member states, and citizens across the continent.”
The letter doesn’t mention Trump’s comments about Africa. African ambassadors attending Conway’s meeting were expecting a follow up to the letter or even talk of African policy as they said Trump’s vulgar comment was the hot topic of backroom conversations at the AU’s annual summit.
One African ambassador, who wanted to remain anonymous, told FP that perhaps Conway’s meeting was positive because at least someone from Trump’s inner circle “actually met” with them.
In contradiction to the diplomacy in Trump’s letter to the AU, the president reportedly shunned the idea of hearing the Congressional Black Caucus’ thoughts on immigration in regard to Africa at the Jan. 11 immigration meeting.
“Trump was curt and dismissive, saying he was not making immigration policy to cater to the CBC and did not particularly care about that bloc’s demands,” according to The Washington Post.
“’You’ve got to be joking,’ one adviser said, describing Trump’s reaction.”
Some members of the CBC wore kente cloth to the SOTU to protest Trump’s reported comments:
Many of our members attended the #SOTU to stare racism in the face. Both those who attended & those who didn’t wore Kente cloth to protest @realDonaldTrump’s “shithole” comments about #Africa & #Haiti & to stand in solidarity w/ Africans & people of African descent worldwide. pic.twitter.com/YodkFhnTKp
— Black Caucus (@OfficialCBC) January 31, 2018
CBC Chairman Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.) said in a statement on Jan. 11:
“President Trump is clearly more concerned with ending the future flow of immigrants from Africa and the African diaspora than providing relief to Dreamers who came here through no fault of their own.”
Richmond said the president has “injected his racist policies” into immigration negotiations, “mainly his unreasonable demands to completely end the Diversity Visa Program.”
He continued, “This program greatly benefits immigrants from African countries and provides an opportunity for them to achieve the American Dream.”