Donald Trump said he would not meet the family of Jacob Blake during his visit to Wisconsin on Tuesday because “lawyers would be involved”.
When asked at a White House press conference on Monday why he wasn’t meeting with the Blake family, Mr Trump said he had already spoken with the family’s pastor but that it would be inappropriate to speak to their lawyer.
“I thought it would be better not to do anything where there are lawyers involved,” Mr Trump said. “They wanted me to speak but they wanted to have lawyers involved and I thought that was inappropriate so I didn’t do that.”
Speaking on CNN late Monday, Jacob Blake Senior – father of Jacob Blake – and attorney Benjamin Crump confirmed the family wanted the legal team present during the call with the president.
“If he didn’t talk to Benjamin Crump. Trump didn’t talk to Crump. Man, there’s nothing to talk about man. There’s nothing to talk about. This is not politics. This is about the life of my son. And Benjamin Crump represents my family,” Mr Blake said.
Mr Crump said the Blake family wanted their legal team involved in everything that happens, including any meetings with the president, as they had done when speaking to Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.
“Because while they’re concentrating on their son’s life they want us to concentrate on the fight for justice,” Mr Crump said. “Clients want to have assurances that their lawyers are helping guide them through this very difficult process.”
Mr Blake Sr also said that the family does not have a pastor so was unsure who Mr Trump had been talking to.
Earlier on Monday, press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said the president planned to meet with local law enforcement and business owners surveying the damage to Kenosha, while Mr Trump left the possibility of meeting with the Blake family open.
“And I may at some point, you know do that, but they did have a lawyer that wanted to be on the phone, and I said no that’s inappropriate, but I just gave my best regards,” Mr Trump said.
Wisconsin’s Democrat governor Tony Evers has asked Mr Trump not to visit Kenosha, saying in a letter to the president that his presence would hinder the city’s healing following the violence that followed Mr Blake’s shooting.
When asked on Monday if he had any concerns the visit would exacerbate concerns and increase violence, Mr Trump said could have the opposite effect.
“It could also increase enthusiasm, and it could increase love and respect for our country. And that’s why I’m going, because they did a fantastic job,” Mr Trump said.