Kilmartin meets in DC with Trump, who calls RI ‘a beautiful place’

Attorney General Peter Kilmartin can be seen to the left of President Trump in this photo taken Feb. 28, 2017, in the East Room of the White House. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – R.I. Attorney General Peter Kilmartin joined his counterparts from other states at a meeting with President Trump at the White House on Tuesday, a spokeswoman confirmed.

Kilmartin is in Washington for the winter meeting of the National Association of Attorneys General, spokeswoman Amy Kempe said in an email. The meeting began Monday and continues through Wednesday.

Kilmartin, a second-term Democrat, has criticized Trump over his immigration and environmental policies since the GOP president took office in January. But they had a cordial conversation in person.

During a brief walk from the meeting room to the Oval Office, Kilmartin “personally introduced himself to the president, who acknowledged that Rhode Island was a beautiful place,” Kempe told Eyewitness News.

Trump spoke about issues that affect all states – including opioid abuse, addiction and human trafficking – and urged the attorneys general to keep lines of communication with the White House open even though they will disagree at times, Kempe said. The president also took questions, though Kilmartin did not ask one himself, she said.

“There was nothing too controversial,” Kempe said. “Attorney General Kilmartin felt the questions were respectfully asked and respectfully answered.”

The meeting with the prosecutors has already made headlines: Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro alleged that when asked at the meeting about recent anti-Semitic activity in the country, Trump replied that “sometimes it’s the reverse,” according to a BuzzFeed report.

Kilmartin confirmed Shapiro’s account, though he also said the president “did express concern about the incidents.”

“The attorney general said he found it difficult to discern what he meant by his comments, and that he is hopeful the president will better address the matter during tonight’s address as the president indicated to the attorneys general he was going to do,” she said.

Kempe said Kilmartin is being joined in Washington by Deputy Attorney General Gerry Coyne and Assistant Attorney General Aaron Weisman, and the cost of their trip is being covered by taxpayers. The attorney general did not attend any fundraisers while he was there, she said.

Kilmartin and the other attorneys general posed for a photo with Trump in the East Room and the Oval Office while they were at the White House.

Kilmartin is the second Rhode Island leader to spend time with Trump in recent days. Gov. Gina Raimondo, a fellow Democrat, met the president over the weekend as part of the National Governors Association’s winter meeting.

Ted Nesi (tnesi@wpri.com) covers politics and the economy for WPRI.com. He writes Nesi’s Notes on Saturdays and hosts Executive Suite. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram