The Trump White House is moving ahead to implement needed reforms and institute more opportunities for minority communities to succeed and overcome challenges.
Ashley D. Bell, White House policy adviser for entrepreneurship and innovation, joins The Daily Signal Podcast to explain how the president is taking steps to strengthen underserved communities economically and institute needed police and criminal justice reforms.
We also cover these stories:
- President Donald Trump’s plan to end his predecessor’s DACA program is blocked by the Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision.
- In an interview with ABC News’ Martha Raddatz, former Trump national security adviser John Bolton says the president isn’t fit for his office.
- Twenty-eight Democrats in Congress sign a letter asking the Department of Education to allow biological males to compete in girls sports.
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Virginia Allen: I am joined by Mr. Ashley D. Bell, White House Policy Advisor for entrepreneurship and innovation. Mr. Bell, Thanks so much for being here today.
Ashley Bell: Thank you so much for having me. I really appreciate the opportunity to be on your show.
Allen: President [Donald] Trump announced earlier this week that he’s issuing an executive order that will strengthen the relationship between law enforcement and the communities that they serve. Wow, this is such a critical step. Can you tell me a little bit more about the components of this executive order?
Bell: Yes. It absolutely is a critical step in the right direction. And I think the president did what he does best. He was able to pull together a coalition of leaders to gather around to reason together and figure out how we can make our streets safer, our communities more secure.
And he did so by putting the necessary critical pieces of the puzzle together. We had law enforcement around the table, as well as families that have been victims of excessive force from bad cops.
And I think that what was able to happen is that the president was able to do exactly what [Sen.] Tim Scott said very recently in his press conference on this issue, [which is], to show that there’s no binary choice between supporting underserved communities and communities of color and law enforcement, that you can do both. That you can have a table where law enforcement leadership sits as well as families that have lost loved ones at the hands of excessive force.
No one wants bad cops off the street more than good cops. And so we look at that commonality and the executive order was able to do a couple of key things. One, [it] was able to open the door for social workers and those with specialized skills to go out on patrol with police officers.
This can help in deescalating incidents with people with mental health challenges that our officers just may not be in a position and equipped to deal with.
It also creates national standards for certification and makes sure that there’s a standard that we all are applying ourselves to—every local jurisdiction in the state—when it comes to training and making sure officers have the necessary understanding of how to deescalate situations and how to properly use excessive force and banning chokeholds, unless their life is threatened.
… Another very critical step is making sure that our officers aren’t allowed to go from one city to the next and not have their record reported to that city.
You don’t want to go from Atlanta to Charlotte and have an officer who’s already been adjudicated as having used excessive force inappropriately and not have those officials in that city have that understanding.
So the president said, “Look, I’m going to tie federal funding to you reporting these incidents.” So if you want federal dollars, which many of these institutions do because the president believes that we should fund the police and not defund the police, … to aid in your efforts, then you need to report to us, to this national database at Department of Justice if you have officers that have been adjudicated as having used excessive force.
So wherever they go, … people know that, that way you can’t just jurisdiction pick and go places that ignore those standards.
Allen: You mentioned Sen. Tim Scott. He’s leading the effort [with] congressional Republicans to pass that police reform legislation that is very complimentary of the president’s executive order. What do you think about Scott’s legislation?
Bell: Well, first, Sen. Scott is a very unique leader. Someone who I’ve considered a mentor for a long, long time since before his time in the Senate. And what he brings to the Republican caucus is a breath of the different perspectives.
[He’s] someone that has been racially profiled as recently as this year, someone who has been pulled over and who understands what it’s like to be an African American, to be suspected of doing something that you may not have even done anything. And so I think that, that sort of perspective is humbling for his fellow senators to understand of his worldview.
He also understands that we need to also support our police and not have a binary choice of supporting people of color or supporting the police. And so I think what he’s doing is reflecting the president’s approach of building a coalition.
I think the reason that you see the president’s approach with this executive order going farther than the previous administration—which they may have been well-intentioned in the 21st Century Policing Task Force, but none of the jurisdictions around the country adopted it. It was less than 20 out of 18,000 jurisdictions.
Conversely, the president had virtually every major police union supporting his executive order. And I think you saw on the news, even from people on the left saying, what the president did is that he brought people to the table that the left just couldn’t bring because he respects … the role that the police play and he understands that any solution that we come up with has to involve police and have their perspective and their interests also at the table as well as everyone else.
So I think Sen. Scott’s approach reflects that coalition building. I think more than that, I think there’s a trust with this president that you haven’t seen because this president has led coalitions despite how divisive politics may be.
This is a president that out of the gate, passed the most overhauling criminal justice reform legislation of 30, 40 years and he did so in a bipartisan fashion despite how much the other side may not like him.
Every senator who decided they wanted to run for president voted for it. When you look at creating opportunities zones and going into underserved communities, many times our minority communities, and offering them a opportunity to have capital gains flowing to these communities, which never would’ve happened before. He’s no Johnny-come-lately to these issues or these communities.
So I think he approaches it and he steps up to the plate with a record, with a history of caring and delivering solutions. And I think that’s what he’s trying to focus the American people on now. What are the solutions to the unrest? What are the solutions to the anguish that Americans have right now?
And I think he’s offered that … executive order, a path forward, a path together that has law and order, but also compassion for people who are victims of bad cops and making sure that good cops can help us reach the results we want, which is a fair and just system where every citizen, including police officers, are enabled due process.
Allen: You are working with Ben Carson, [secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development]; Ja’Ron Smith, [deputy assistant to Trump]; and others in the administration to focus on some of those ways to really uplift and revitalize minority and underserved communities in America. Can you just tell me a little bit more about the work that you all are doing?
Bell: Absolutely. … As a part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, opportunities [were] also created through that legislation, once again, an idea that was proposed by Sen. Tim Scott. This issue was brought to the forefront that we need to have a vehicle to bring resources to these underserved communities.
That vehicle was going to be opportunities zones, but we needed to make sure that the ground that these opportunities zones encompassed also had federal resources from a lot of different areas because there are issues in these communities that have been cyclical. They are … generational. The poverty there is deep and is rooted in some challenges that we have to hit head-on.
And it starts with education and extends to health care and extends to crime and public safety and extends to access to jobs and small businesses being [able] to develop.
So the president created what’s called the White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council—a council that I serve as entrepreneurship policy adviser on.
This council was formed in order to bring in 17 federal agencies with resources and grants to help these communities have more resources for policing, to have more resources for entrepreneurship, health care, and housing, affordable housing, key, which is why Secretary Carson is the chair because every dream for every family starts with a place to live that they can call their own.
Now that we’ve hit the pandemic and the pandemic has shocked this country, the economic system, and it’s been just a new challenge for us, the president re-tasked that same workforce that was operating to promote opportunities zones in the middle of the greatest economy the world has ever seen.
And now that we’ve hit COVID, the president said, “Look, you already have the footprint. You built these relationships with these communities. Now I want you turn your focus to making sure that we can recover as quickly as possible. But I want to make sure that those communities that are the hardest hit have a special task force focused on making sure they can recover at the same rate as everyone else.”
This is the president keeping his promise to remember those forgotten communities.
Allen: Yeah. And you recently traveled to Dallas with the president for a roundtable event to discuss solutions around [the] economy, health care, justice disparities, and so forth. Can you tell me a little bit about that conversation in Dallas and who was at the table?
Bell: That conversation was an important one, obviously. Secretary Carson was there, Attorney General [William] Barr was there, Scott Turner, Ja’Ron, my colleague, and several local pastors, local business leaders, and police chiefs were there as well. And I think it was a great opportunity for the president to continue to listen.
This president, like many CEOs around this country and many business owners around this country have had to take a pause and say, after the death of George Floyd, “Let’s have a conversation about how do we make America better and how do we listen to each other and find ways of commonality to do what America does best, which is, in the face of crisis, we innovate and we pull together and we come up with American solutions that are unique to us and unique to the liberties that we hold so close to our heart.”
… Before Dallas, he had a meeting with myself and the several key African American leaders, just like many CEOs are doing.
A lot of CEOs around this country have had to pause and talk to their African American staff and their entire staffs and say, “Here’s the values of our company. Let’s make sure we’re reflecting the values of everyone here and make sure that we’re addressing any needs that can help us be a better place to work.”
And I got to thank the president for being, like most of these CEOs, … a good boss and we had the chance to talk personally in the Oval Office with our staff, no cameras, just to have a heart-to-heart talk about what we see as the challenges because many of us, we’re Americans, but we’re also fathers, we’re also sons and daughters.
I really appreciate the president as being our leader and the CEO of our government and our country as giving us a chance to reflect on that and I appreciated that.
Out of that, we saw Dallas. Dallas was him extending that same courtesy to leaders around the faith-based community and the business community to share their stories and to share their hopes for a way forward.
This president has been consistent. His response to these trials is always going to be based on, “Let’s find solutions.” And he put together the groundwork after listening, the framework for which you eventually saw as the executive order.
[He] is the action president. He’s going to listen to the problem, but after he hears what the problem is, he’s going to say, “Who is with me to move forward, to fix it?”
The folks that trust him stood up to the plate and it was the law enforcement officers, it was the faith-based community, it was the small business community, it was the housing advocates.
And everybody said, “Look, we need a policy in place that can let the American people know that we don’t have to pick sides.” But there’s only one side. There’s a side of America and America is as great an idea as it was in it’s founding. It’s never going to be perfect, but what every generation is called to do is to seek perfection in our best and truest way with our hearts and with our faith.”
And we’re doing that right now as you see this country begin to come together around solutions.
Allen: You’ve been working closely with the president for the past several weeks. I want to ask you, how is President Trump doing right now as he’s facing, really, such a historic time in history, still trying to deal with aspects of the coronavirus pandemic and yet now also address police reform and racial tensions?
Bell: Well, he’s a special man called at a special time. No doubt about it. Every president has had very unique challenges, but this president is, I think, ideally suited to deliver solutions. And I think anyone, no matter if you agree with him or not, you can look at his record and say, “You know what? Despite how the challenges may be, he has found a way of leading by coalition.”
This is a president that reformed criminal justice with a bipartisan record of bipartisan votes. This is the president of the reformed NASDA and brought USMCA to bring jobs back home with large bipartisan support. This is a president that found funding for historically black colleges and did it with large bipartisan support. He passed the CARES Act—one and two and three—and is bringing our economy back with large bipartisan support.
In crisis, this country, both sides as much, despite the rhetoric, they turn to President Trump to make a deal happen that they can lead this country forward and he’s not let us down. Every single time he’s been challenged, we see results.
Despite everything and all the negative about what’s going on with the pandemic, time and time again, he’s led a bipartisan effort to deliver and to keep this economy going.
The reason we saw 2.5 million jobs created the other week and during that month was because the president led the way with the payroll protection plan to make sure that we saved American jobs, millions of American jobs, and we’re starting to see those jobs return now. And that’s what this president is about.
Despite the crisis and the news that you may see, this is a president that sees the seas through the fog, through the moment, and is surrounded by the heat of history, knowing that what will matter at the end of the day is, what did he do during these challenges? What were the solutions he offered and he was able to execute?
I think you’d be hard-pressed to not look at his record and say he delivers and he knows how to put together a coalition of good ideas, American value-based ideas that are good for our economy and good for the safety of our community.
Allen: Mr. Bell, thank you so much for your time today. We really appreciate you joining the podcast.
Bell: No, thank you for your time. I appreciate you having me. Talk to you soon.