WASHINGTON (CNN) — A pastor poised to interview Donald Trump Saturday says he “never tried to be deceitful” about submitting questions in advance to the Republican nominee’s campaign.
The New York Times published a report Thursday revealing “an eight-page draft script” with twelve questions the campaign had worked out for an interview with Bishop Wayne Jackson, the pastor of Great Faith Ministries Congregation in Detroit. Trump is set to visit the African-American church Saturday as part of his effort to make inroads with minority voters.
Appearing on CNN, Jackson pushed back against the idea that the interview with Trump would be inauthentic, and said that it was a normal move for him when participating in political events.
“I’m the one that sat down with the New York Times reporter and one of the questions that she asked, did you submit questions to the Trump campaign beforehand. And yes, I didn’t see anything wrong with it. I never lied about, tried to be deceitful about it,” he told CNN’s Carol Costello on “Newsroom.”
“In the past I have done things for the White House, done an invocation about a prayer about a year ago when Vice President Biden was in town, and before I even did the prayer they asked me to submit what I was going to pray. So I didn’t see anything wrong with it.”
Regarding the script, Jackson said “they were hard questions. They were direct questions. And they were questions that I feel African-Americans need to know.”
But the church leader said that in light of The New York Times report, he had changed some of his questions and has some undisclosed inquiries.
“I have questions that they don’t know about, no one knows about. I changed them after that came out. Let me make something very clear: there was no coercing with the Trump campaign and myself to try to give him an upper hand on these questions.”
The Trump campaign did not respond to multiple requests for comment from CNN on the report in The Times.
Jackson also said that the Trump campaign would not have a role editing the final cut of the interview, disputing an assertion in The New York Times report.
“That is not true. Then it would be tainted, and would not be good. This has never been discussed with me.”
The pastor also suggested Trump would have an informal meeting with members of the congregation.
“So he’s going to stay for the service after the interview. And then if he greets the congregation, as we do with all politicians or all visitors if he wants to say, ‘Hey, I’m Donald Trump, I’m glad to be here’ — and it’s not going to be an interview or speech to the congregation.”
Hillary Clinton’s campaign used the Times report as a sign of the Republican presidential nominee “ducking questions.”
“After 14 months of neglecting us, Donald Trump is once again dodging substantive conversations and ducking questions about the issues that impact our community,” Marlon Marshall, a Clinton aide, said in a statement. “The problem is, our community can see through this: outreach to African Americans cannot be scripted; leaders ought to be prepared to address the hard truths about race and justice in our country.”