Nov 6, 2017

The unfiltered version of Trump's meeting with Native American leaders

Photo: Evan Vucci / AP

In late June, President Trump hosted a group of Native American tribal leaders at the White House. The meeting — attended by Energy Secretary Rick Perry, several governors, and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt — was to discuss ways to make it easier for tribal leaders to access the coal and other energy resources stored under their land.

Two sources in the room confirmed this account and the White House did not dispute it.

The tribal leaders planned to give the president a visual presentation to illuminate the regulatory barriers to their energy exploration. They had a slide deck ready to go, showing a map of Indian land, and it was teed up to play on the TV inside a cabinet in the Roosevelt Room.

Trump, however, wasn't interested in sitting through a slide presentation. He wanted to get to the nut of what they were talking about. He asked the tribal leaders what they needed and how he could help them. The tribal leaders told the president they couldn't get to the resources they needed quickly enough.

Trump interjected: "Why?"

They explained there were government regulatory barriers preventing them.

Trump replied:

"But now it's me. The government's different now. Obama's gone; and we're doing things differently here... So what I'm saying is, just do it."

There was a pause in the room and the tribal leaders looked at each other. One of them started to try to walk back through the barriers to accessing the energy; and Trump cut in again. "No. You've got to just do it. Just do it."

"Chief, chief," Trump continued, addressing one of the tribal leaders, "what are they going to do? Once you get it out of the ground are they going to make you put it back in there? I mean, once it's out of the ground it can't go back in there. You've just got to do it. I'm telling you, chief, you've just got to do it."

The tribal leader looked back at one of the White House officials in the room — perhaps somebody from the Counsel's office — and he said "can we just do that?" And the official responded that the administration is making progress and has a plan to roll back various regulations.

Trump interjected again: "Guys, I feel like you're not hearing me right now. We've just got to do it. I feel like we've got no choice; other countries are just doing it. China is not asking questions about all of this stuff. They're just doing it. And guys, we've just got to do it."

The president closed the meeting by telling the tribal leaders he wasn't asking them for anything in return. He told them they probably remember that he didn't have to take everyone's money when he ran for president.

"I'm not asking for anything," he said, "but all I'm saying is it'd be great if the tribal people across this country knew that I did this for you guys. Just make sure that everyone knows that I did it."

There wasn't really a conclusion to the meeting. "It was kind of like, 'all right'," said a source in the room. "And the president's like, 'let's go take a picture!'"

Editor's Note: This is the unfiltered version of a post from yesterday, "Trump's Government of One".

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