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President Trump To Hold A Roundtable On Race Relations And Policing In Dallas

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

All right. President Trump was at a Dallas church today, where he talked about four steps his administration plans to pursue to address racial disparity in America. It's part of the White House effort to show him responding to the protests over police violence. President Trump has rejected the idea, though, that there is systemic racism in policing.

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PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Americans are good and virtuous people. We have to work together to confront bigotry and prejudice wherever they appear. But we'll make no progress and heal no wounds by falsely labelling tens of millions of decent Americans as racist or bigots.

KELLY: The president continued to express his strong support for police. Well, NPR's Franco Ordoñez traveled to Dallas with the president. He is here with us now.

Hey, Franco.

FRANCO ORDOÑEZ, BYLINE: Hello.

KELLY: Hello. So there have been calls from the president's critics and his allies for him to do more, to talk to Americans after the protests that we have all watched unfold. Tell us a little bit more about the view he laid out today.

ORDOÑEZ: Well, you know, he talked in very general terms about a four-part plan for addressing these issues. He - one of them was he wants to boost access to capital for small business owners in minority communities. He also said he wants to address racial disparities in the health care system. He talked a lot about education and the need for Congress to enact school choice, which is a longstanding policy of Republicans. And he also talked about an executive order about policing standards.

KELLY: Right. On that last point, we have some tape of this. The president talked about more money for police today. Let's listen.

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TRUMP: We must invest more energy and resources in police training and recruiting and community engagement. We have to respect our police. We have to take care of our police. They're protecting us. And if they're allowed to do their job, they'll do a great job. And you always have a bad apple no matter where you go. You have bad apples. And there are not too many of them.

KELLY: Franco, did the president give details on what is under consideration in this executive order?

ORDOÑEZ: Well, I mean, he did say that the plan will deal with what he called professional standards for use of force and de-escalation tactics. He mentioned force with compassion, but he also emphasized the need to dominate the streets. He said it several times. He did also mention a pilot program for social workers and police departments. But, really, there were no details. We also know that Republicans in Congress are working on a plan, which we may learn about soon. But, really, a big part of the president's message today was to draw a contrast with activists who are using the slogan, defund the police. He says the police need more money not less.

KELLY: I mean, the context here is the president has been criticized for that message, for wanting to dominate the streets and control the protests rather than addressing the underlying concerns that have brought people out into the streets. Did he say anything today to try to quiet that criticism?

ORDOÑEZ: Yeah, that was interesting. I mean, he really, in this speech, leaned into his law and order message. He spent a lot of time talking about the ongoing protests in Washington state, which are on the opposite side of the country. And he criticized the Democratic governor and mayor of Seattle for not stopping them and threatened to stop the protests himself.

KELLY: That is NPR White House correspondent Franco Ordoñez. He was traveling with the president today on this trip to Dallas.

Thank you, Franco.

ORDOÑEZ: Thank you so much. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.