President Trump visits African-American history museum, praises Ben Carson

President Trump toured the National Museum of African American History and Culture for the first time on Tuesday morning, with Housing and Urban Development nominee Ben Carson and daughter Ivanka Trump at his side.

The museum opened in September of 2016, and the Tuesday visit marks a second official White House event timed in conjunction with Black History Month. Trump marked the beginning of the month by hosting a listening session described by the White House as one with "African-American leaders."

"Honestly, it's fantastic," President Trump said of the museum.

Recalling a quote from Spotswood Rice, a runaway slave who fled to join the Union Army during the Civil War, the commander in chief commented on the duty of protecting universal freedom in America.

"He believed that his fellow African Americans always looked to the United States as the promise land of universal freedom," Trump said. "Today and every day of my presidency I pledge to do everything I can to continue that promise of freedom for African Americans, and every American."

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The president's museum entourage on Tuesday included daughter, Ivanka, Ben Carson and his wife, Candy Carson, Sen. Tim Scott and presidential aide and former "Apprentice" contestant Omarosa Manigault, among others. Manigault reportedly arranged the museum visit.

The president praised Ben Carson after their tour, saying he is "proud" of his Cabinet nominee.

The newest Smithsonian museum features an exhibit dedicated to Ben Carson's medical career -- a feature Carson and the president observed together while on their guided tour.

The president later commented on states he won in the 2016 election and gave high praise to Ben Carson during press availability.

"I love this guy. He's really a great guy," Trump said of Carson, also commenting on the former Republican presidential candidate's stalled Senate confirmation as the head of Housing and Urban Development.

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Sen. Tim Scott's tour presence was also brought to attention by the president, who pointed out his affinity for Scott's home state of South Carolina.

"I like all those states where I won by double, double, double digits," Trump said.

Trump also acknowledged and brought to the podium Martin Luther King Jr.'s niece, Alveda, calling her a "tremendous fighter for justice."

Although the visit was reportedly scheduled to happen as early as January, the Smithsonian tour notably comes after Trump's exchange with White House correspondent for American Urban Radio Networks, April Ryan, when she asked the president if he planned to include the Congressional Black Caucus in discussions about his inner-city agenda.

"I would," he responded. "I'll tell you what, do you want to set up the meeting? Are they friends of yours?"

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