He was America’s first black billionaire. Bob Johnson founded BET and owns a Bethesda-based company with a portfolio of hotels, financial services, and more. Now he has a message for African Americans -- Trump deserves "the benefit of the doubt."
Johnson recently met with President-elect Donald Trump. During Off Script with Bruce Johnson, he confirmed Trump offered him a job in his Cabinet.
“I’m not disclosing the position, but I turned him down,” Johnson replied.
He said Trump’s people reached out to him after making it known he was interested in talking with the future president.
“I wanted to give him a message that I thought was important for African Americans,” Johnson said.
Johnson said he discussed with Trump how to talk to the black community. Instead of asking “What do you got to lose?” he said Trump’s message to African Americans should be “This is what you have to gain.”
On giving Trump a chance: "You need to engage him thinking of your own interests," says BET founder Robert Johnson on #OffScriptOn9— WUSA9 (@wusa9) November 30, 2016
He’s encouraging African Americans to give President-elect Trump a chance and to “find common ground.”
“If you ignore a president and a party that holds the House and the Senate and their ability to enact legislation or policies that may not be in your interest, they will do that because they have no reference point to talk to you. They have no knowledge of what you’re most concerned about, what your fears are,” Johnson said. “And if you find that common ground, you go forward with the opportunity that something positive could happen as a result of the relationship.”
"If you don't [give Trump a chance], you're basically waiting 4 years hoping that'll change things," Robert Johnson says #OffScriptOn9— WUSA9 (@wusa9) November 30, 2016
Johnson said the African American community should not turn away from Trump because of any harsh remarks he previously said.
“Because of what he says, is all the more reason you should engage him. If he carries that feeling of black Americans being irrelevant to the Republican party or his vision of America, that’s the result you’re going to get,” Johnson said. “It’s in black America’s interest to engage power and change those policies and philosophies in our own self-interest while we can.”
As for why Democrats lost the election, he said they focused their message too much on Trump being a “bad guy.”
“What they should have been doing is, ‘We know you want to vote for me and not for Donald Trump because of what he said, but here’s why you should vote for me. Not for that reason, but because I’m going to create jobs, deal with education, deal with the huge crime problem, put black folks in leadership roles,” Johnson suggested.
The billionaire businessman said he loves Hillary Clinton and has been friends with the Clintons for more than 30 years.
“I would do everything in my power if I could make Hillary Clinton president of the United States. I can’t do that,” Johnson said.
He doesn’t think she’ll run for America’s most powerful job again, but he also doesn’t think she’ll slip away into retirement.
“I’m convinced with all of the tremendous intellect and drive to make this society and country better, you haven’t seen the last of Secretary Clinton,” Johnson said with a smile.