Rev. Bill Owens, president of the coalition of African-American pastors, defended President Trump for his attack on the city of Baltimore in an interview Monday night with CNN's Don Lemon. Owens contended Trump's comments about Baltimore should not be considered racist because the president attacks people of all colors.
Trump met with a group of inner-city pastors Monday at the White House including Rev. Owens. Lemon asked Owens if he believed the president used the meeting as a shield against accusations of racism.
"So the president tweeted today he was looking forward to his meeting with wonderful inner-city pastors. Any concern for you that the president used this meeting with black leaders to insulate himself from the criticism?" Lemon asked.
"I don't think so," Rev. Owens replied. "I don't think that at all because I have been to the White House four times in five months. There was nothing about insulating from anything. He wanted to hear from us, what our concerns were and what he could do to help us."
DON LEMON: The question was what did the president say about his attacks against the leaders of color and did any of the faith leaders raise concerns about that?
OWENS: I don't remember him saying anything about colored leaders, leaders that are colored. There was some things discussed, that were said, but I don't remember him referring to leaders of color.
Did anybody there raise concerns about what he's been saying lately about people like Elijah Cummings or anyone?
OWENS: Well, that was not the purpose of the meeting today. Today the meeting was how can we help the black community. That is my concern. That was the purpose of the meeting. That is the reason I came to Washington. That is my focus, helping our inner-city young people especially. Our children. Our young people...
LEMON: So I know it's hard for you, you think it's hard to believe that Trump is racist. But he's repeatedly used racially charged language. He consistently attacks black and brown elected leaders. So, why is that hard to believe? Pastor?
OWENS: I find President Trump leader of all colors. He attacks who he will. He's his own man. I can't dictate what he should or shouldn't do. But he does not just attack black people. He attacks anybody. And you know it.
LEMON: So as a man of faith, as a Christian he attacks anyone. It sounds like you're condoning attacks? Is that Christianly or Godly?
OWENS: 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.
LEMON: And is that okay with you?
OWENS: I'm not his judge.