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Donald Trump said on Tuesday that he can “relate it really very much to myself” when African-Americans say “the system is rigged” against them. He cited his own insurgent primary campaign for the White House.
“When I ran for president, I could see what is going on with the system. And the system is rigged,” Trump explained.
“You can’t truly understand what’s going on unless you’re African-American,” he also cautioned.
The presumptive GOP nominee made the comments in the middle of an interview with Fox News host Bill O’Reilly, who repeatedly asked him about race relations in the U.S. Throughout the interview, Trump struck a balanced, arguably muddled note: He sharply criticized both the Black Lives Matter movement and the police officers who were recently filmed shooting African-American men.
“Sadly, there would seem to be,” Trump said when O’Reilly asked him whether there’s “a problem between blacks and whites in America, generally speaking.”
He blamed President Obama at least partially for the situation.
“It’s getting more and more obvious. And it’s very sad. It’s very sad.” Trump continued. “And hopefully it can be healed. We have a divider as a president. He’s the great divider, and I’ve said it for a long time. And it’s probably not been much worse at any time,” he added.
Last week, fatal police shootings — one in Baton Rouge, La., and another in Falcon Heights, Minn., sparked protests across the country by demonstrators who say officers regularly use excessive force against black men. Trump offered no sympathy for the officers involved in the incidents.
“I thought it was a terrible, disgusting performance that I saw,” he said of the footage of the two shootings. “Both of them were very, very sad. So maybe that’s lack of training. Maybe it’s bad people. I don’t know. It’s such a sad thing to see those two sights,” he added.
Trump pivoted to last week’s sniper attack in Dallas that left five officers dead during a protest of police-involved killings. The shooter, Micah Johnson, told police that he wanted to kill white officers, authorities said. The Dallas Police Department used explosives to kill Johnson and end the standoff.
“When you saw the policemen shot — I mean, how bad was that?” Trump said of the slain officers. “And we can’t allow that to happen. We can’t allow any of it to happen.”
Later in the interview, O’Reilly said he believed Black Lives Matter is a “hate group” and asked for Trump’s opinion of the movement.
“I think the term is very divisive. The first time I heard it, I said, ‘You have to be kidding,’” Trump replied. “They’re dividing America,” he added.