In a new interview with The Hollywood Reporter ahead of the premiere of his newly-relaunched talk show, Steve Harvey is opening up about his meeting with Donald Trump and his work with the Trump administration.
Now — he says he hasn’t spoken to Trump since their initial meeting, but he did say he’s working with Housing and Urban Development secretary Ben Carson.
Check out a few excerpts:
On the Trump meeting backlash: The backlash. It was so vicious that it really threw me. I was being called names that I’ve never been called: Uncle Tom. A coon. A sellout. Because I went to see this man?! Which only happened because my business partner got a call from the Obama transition team, who said that the Trump transition team would like to set up a meeting. The Obama team said they thought it would be a good idea because the president is encouraging dialogue. And I have a relationship with Obama. We’re friends. So I say, “OK, cool.” Now, here’s the crazy thing: I’m supposed to be on a boat for my 60th birthday, so my wife says, “Steve, just take off [and skip the meeting]. You’ll meet with him some other time.” God, I should’ve listened.
On what he and Trump talked about: We talked about golf for 20 minutes. And then I told him, “Mr. President, I’m going to be honest with you, I didn’t vote for you. I campaigned very hard for Hillary Clinton.” And I said, “The problem was that we made a lot of mistakes in the campaign. We were playing checkers and y’all was playing chess. But now that you’re here, you’re the 45th president and I’m going to help you.” He wants to know how, so I say, “You’ve appointed Ben Carson as the head of Housing and Urban Development, and I’ve got keys to a lot of cities around this country from the years of performing that I’ve done. I can get an ear to them really quick and find out what their real needs are. Y’all keep closing schools in the cities. Why don’t we take those schools that are closing, put some HUD money in them, and reopen them as vision centers and teach STEM and computers and coding? If you connect me with Ben Carson, I can help him with that.” A few minutes later, he had Ben Carson on the phone.
On working with the Trump administration: I’ve been to HUD twice. I’ve met with Dr. Carson and we’re actually trying to get it started. We’ve had meetings, and now we’re just waiting on the final notes. We have several teams in place. Hopefully before the year goes out, we’ll be making the announcement about the first vision center.
On speaking to Trump: No, I haven’t talked to him since.