The panel at the event in Nashville, Tenn., included many people who have been critical of the president, including CNN analyst April Ryan and Above the Law executive editor Elie Mystal. At one point, Mystal argued that Trump and the “MAGA” hat allowed people to identify openly as bigots in a way that the Ku Klux Klan hood didn’t.
“They are self-identifying for you who they are and what they are about,” he said. Before that comment, he claimed that Trump gave people “license” to self-identify with racism, bigotry, and misogyny.
That flew in the face of what Jimmy James, a black Trump supporter who was wearing a “MAGA” hat, said he believed. After the moderator, former MSNBC host Touré, ended the session, James spoke up and challenged the panelists who remained on the stage — Touré, Ryan, Mystal and author Malcolm Nance.
James, who has posted political videos to YouTube, started the exchange by telling the panelists that he left the Democrats after the party pushed policies that put many people he knew “in jail.”
After he suggested that the media figures portrayed black people who supported Trump as self-loathing, Ryan physically recoiled.
After struggling to ask a question, James then accused the panelists of “advocating for Democrats.” Ryan responded by throwing her hands in the air and shaking her head.
“You are sitting here looking at black men with MAGA hats like we are the problem. No sir, it is you that is the problem,” James said, apparently referring to Mystal. After some crosstalk, Mystal responded by saying that Democrats had policies they believed helped “everybody.” He added, “Trump has policies that he believes only help his own voters.”
Brandon Straka, the WalkAway campaign founder, interjected by saying that was a “lie.”
Straka’s organization, which has been recognized by President Trump, has called for minorities to leave the Democratic Party. Straka identifies as gay. His organization’s booth at the event just happened to be right next to the area where the panel with Ryan and Mystal took place.
After repeatedly claiming Mystal was lying, Straka added: “Speaking of lies, I want to talk to April Ryan, the biggest liar in this room.”
Ryan vehemently defended herself, saying: “Speaking of lies, let me tell you something, my middle name is truth.” As Ryan got up to leave, she told Straka, “You don’t want this.” Straka went on to describe his organization and why he left the party.
“The liberal media is lying to you. April Ryan is lying,” Straka shouted at the crowd. Fox News tried interviewing Ryan after the event but she declined, citing other obligations.
The exchange touched on simmering discontent among minority Trump supporters who have claimed the media haven’t represented their voices.