Former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows reportedly initially dismissed the idea that George Floyd's killing would dominate the news and generate nationwide outrage in May 2020, instead thinking "nobody" would care.
That's according to a new excerpt published in Politico Friday from reporter Michael C. Bender's book Frankly, We Did Win this Election, which details a West Wing meeting the morning after Memorial Day in 2020. The scheduled topic was the COVID-19 pandemic, but adviser Jared Kushner, who appeared "distracted" and "aloof," reportedly interrupted the discussion to bring up the video starting to spread of Floyd's killing at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer.
"I'm just going to stop you," Kushner reportedly said. "There is going to be one story that dominates absolutely everything for the foreseeable future. I'm already hearing from African American leaders about the death of George Floyd in Minnesota."
But according to the book, Meadows "brushed" this off, telling Kushner, "Nobody is going to care about that." Meadows disputes this account.
Former President Donald Trump watched the video of Floyd's killing the following day, according to the book, and he reportedly "looked repulsed" and turned away before it was finished, telling aides "this is f---ing terrible" and commenting that "these f---ing cops" can "get out of control sometimes."
"The president showed a level of empathy for Floyd behind closed doors that he would never fully reveal in public," Bender writes. "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."
A few weeks later, the book describes, Trump would find himself angrily complaining that he's "done all this stuff for the Blacks" but "they all f---ing hate me, and none of them are going to vote for me."