Amid renewed accusations that President Donald Trump is racist, a black pastor is speaking out against the media narrative.
The Rev. Bill Owens, who met with Trump alongside 19 other inner-city ministry leaders on Monday, told reporters after the meeting what he thought about the president.
“I find that hard to believe,” the 80-year-old Owens said of accusations that Trump is racist. He added that he has personally experienced racism, “so I know it when I see it.”
Owens, who is president of the coalition of African-American pastors, said the discussion centered on “the issues facing the black community.” He pushed back against claims the meeting was “damage control” for controversy sparked over the weekend.
“I have been here five different times in four or five months, so it was not damage control,” Owens said, according to CNN.
“When you look at the opportunity zones, when you look at what he’s doing for our prisoners, which is a main factor,” he explained. “The fact that he met with us today is a factor. He wanted to know from us what should he do in America.”
Later, while speaking with CNN host Don Lemon, Owens continued to defend Trump from charges of racism.
When Lemon asked how Trump’s attacks are not racist, Owens contended Trump cannot be racist because he attacks people of all colors.
“I find President Trump leader of all colors. He attacks who he will. He’s his own man,” Owens said. “I can’t dictate what he should or should not do. But he does not just attack black people. He attacks anybody. And you know it.”
Then Lemon invoked Christianity.
“So as a man of faith, as a Christian, you’re saying he attacks anyone. It sounds like you’re condoning attacks?” he asked. “Is that christianly or godly?”
“I’m just stating a statement of fact. I’m not condoning anything. I’m stating a statement of fact. President Trump does not pick the people he attacks because of color. He attacks anybody he feels needed,” Owens explained. “I’m not his judge.”