Donald Trump Criticizes Flint Pastor Who Interrupted Him, But Misstates What Happened Donald Trump is attacking the pastor who interrupted him during a Wednesday appearance at her church in Flint, Mich.

Trump Criticizes Flint Pastor — But Misstates Key Facts About Their Encounter

  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript


Donald Trump has kept to his message recently. He hasn't picked many fights, except with Hillary Clinton. Now that's changed. Trump spoke yesterday at an African-American church in Flint, Mich., at the invitation of its pastor. Today on Fox News, Trump described it as a political trap.


DONALD TRUMP: When she got up to introduce me, she was so nervous, she was shaking. And I said, wow, this is sort of strange, and then she came up. So she had that in mind. There's no question about it.

SHAPIRO: NPR's Scott Detrow was at that event and saw that Trump's version of things is not exactly how it went down. Hi, Scott.


SHAPIRO: So what did happen?

DETROW: Well, this was on a - about a two-hour trip to Flint, Mich., which has kind of become a go-to political stop this year because of its problems with its drinking water. Ari, you've done so much reporting on that. And Hillary Clinton's been there. Bernie Sanders was there. Now Donald Trump came.

He briefly toured the water treatment plant, and then he went to Bethel United Methodist Church, where he gave some remarks. And he actually began with a joke, saying it used to be that you could not drink the water in Mexico and that you made cars in Flint, Mich., and now it's the reverse. But then he kind of turned to a typical stump speech. He was criticizing NAFTA. He was criticizing Bill and Hillary Clinton. And that's when Reverend Faith Green Timmons walked back on stage and kind of took the microphone from Donald Trump.


TRUMP: Now, Hillary Clinton...

FAITH GREEN TIMMONS: Mr. Trump, I invited you here to thank us...

TRUMP: Yes. Oh, oh. OK, OK.

TIMMONS: Not give a political speech.

TRUMP: OK. That's good. I'm going to go back...


TRUMP: So, Scott, today Donald Trump is saying that Reverend Timmons was hostile to him. You were there. Did she seem hostile?

DETROW: Not at all. And I should also say she did not seem nervous at all, despite what Donald Trump told "Fox and Friends." Trump is actually saying in this interview that the crowd wanted him to keep speaking.

TRUMP: I'll tell you what really made me feel good. The audience was saying let him speak. Let him speak.


TRUMP: And the audience...

DETROW: That's just not true. What actually happened was that several people in the crowd started heckling Donald Trump, started asking him pointed questions about his track record as a landlord, whether he racially discriminated. And Reverend Timmons actually stepped in there to defend Trump. She said he was a guest of the church, and they needed to treat him with respect.

SHAPIRO: What is she saying about this incident?

DETROW: Her understanding, she says, is that this was an event that was going to focus on recovery work in Flint, work that the church is doing to provide water and food and things like that. She posted on Facebook after this all went down that had Trump stuck to what his camp claimed he came to do, we would not have had a problem.

Now, some Trump supporters are pointing to a Facebook post that Reverend Timmons posted and then deleted before the event, saying, he will not use us. We will educate him. That post was in response to a lot of criticism that she was getting from inviting Trump in the first place.

SHAPIRO: Trump has been trying to appeal to African-American voters recently. How's that going overall?

DETROW: With African-American voters themselves, not too well. Trump is hardly registering in the polls with black voters. He's even lower than the past Republican nominees have been. He has been trying really hard to reach out, but he's been doing so in really harsh terms, saying that inner cities have bad schools, a terrible economy and are really dangerous. And he's been making these pitches in front of mostly white campaign trail crowds.

Trump has done some events in black settings lately. He went to a black church in Detroit. That was a visit that went pretty smoothly. This was his second visit to a black church, and this one was pretty rocky.

SHAPIRO: NPR's Scott Detrow, thanks a lot.

DETROW: Anytime.

Copyright © 2016 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.