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Trump heads to Dallas for campaign fundraiser and roundtable on ‘justice disparities’

The roundtable, which will include “faith leaders, law enforcement, & small business owners,” according to White House spokesman Judd Deere, will “discuss solutions to historic economic, health, and justice disparities in American communities.”

The event, the description of which doesn’t specify that racial disparities will be addressed, is scheduled to take place at the Gateway Church Dallas Campus.

Three key black law enforcement officials in the region — the region’s police chief, sheriff and district attorney — were not invited to the roundtable, CNN has confirmed. However, the Glenn Heights Police Chief Vernell E. Dooley, who is African American, was invited. Glenn Heights is south of Dallas and has a population of about 16,000 people.

Responding to a request for comment, a White House official passed along a list of attendees, which include other law enforcement officials and representatives from police associations. Reporters with the White House travel pool have also been told the church event is expected to be set up more like the President is giving remarks than a roundtable configuration.

Past public conversations the White House has facilitated with the African American community have mainly included conservative allies, religious leaders and law enforcement. They have not included civil rights leaders, local activists and organizers involved in demonstrations over George Floyd’s death or the families of individuals who died as a result of police brutality.

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The exact issues expected to be discussed at the roundtable are not apparent, but the President has used similar meetings this week to relay his perceived victories for the African American community — namely, criminal justice reform, opportunity zones and the general state of the economy. He’s also used the meetings to call against defunding police departments.
According to officials, the White House has been drafting an executive order on police reform and the President has considered endorsing additional police reform measures in the wake of national outcry over Floyd’s death at the hands of police officers in Minnesota. But it’s not clear whether Trump will take any of those actions while he’s in Floyd’s home state.

After the roundtable, the President is slated to attend a joint fundraising committee dinner at a private residence, which will bring in $10 million for Trump Victory, a Republican National Committee official confirmed to CNN. Trump Victory is a joint fundraising committee benefiting the Trump campaign, the RNC, and 22 state parties.

The price tag is $580,600 per couple to attend the Thursday night event at a private home in Dallas. About 25 people are expected. Trump is expected to attend a similar fundraising event in Bedminster, New Jersey, on Saturday.

These are Trump’s first in-person fundraising events since March, when the coronavirus pandemic halted traditional fundraising and campaigning.

The President’s visit to the Lone Star State comes as Texas continues to deal with the pandemic.

According to Johns Hopkins University’s tally of cases in the US, there have been more than 80,000 identified coronavirus cases in Texas and more than 1,900 have died from the virus. And on Wednesday night, the US surpassed 2 million identified coronavirus cases.

While Trump is en route to Dallas, the White House coronavirus task force, led by Vice President Mike Pence, will meet for the second time this week in Washington, as a trusted model is projecting a steep increase in cases in the fall.

But as Pence and Trump continue to lead the country’s coronavirus response, they’ve also been eager to push federal and state guidance aside this week for the sake of the President’s reelection campaign.

Pence appeared to openly flout Virginia guidelines on Wednesday when he tweeted and subsequently deleted a photo with a large group of tightly-clustered Trump campaign staff at their Viriginia headquarters with no masks. The cap on gatherings is 10 people in Virginia.
Trump’s Dallas visit comes as Trump kicks off his return to campaign-related events, including in-person rallies, even as federal guidelines continue to discourage large gatherings. On Wednesday, the President announced he would host his first rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on June 19.

Ahead of the Texas visit, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden criticized Trump for his handling of the coronavirus and for “running away” from a meaningful conversation on systemic racism.

“More than 1,800 Texans have died as a result of COVID-19, more than 2.9 million have filed for unemployment, and people around the world are marching against systemic racism in our country,” Biden said in a statement. “For weeks we’ve seen President Trump run away from a meaningful conversation on systemic racism and police brutality. Instead, he’s further divided our country. Today’s trip to Texas won’t change any of that. President Trump is more interested in photo-ops than offering a healing voice as our nation mourns.”

CNN’s Fredreka Schouten, Betsy Klein, Kevin Liptak, Sarah Mucha, Ed Lavendara, Ashley Killough and Nikki Carvajal contributed to this report.

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