On Sunday, President Trump retweeted a video of one of his supporters yelling “White power!” He then deleted it a few hours later.
What We Know:
- The video, apparently taken at The Villages, a retirement community in Florida, features a clash between residents as a white man is shown riding in a golf cart bearing “Trump 2020” and “America First” signs. The golf cart, along with other people donning Trump shirts and signs, passes a group of protesters and both groups begin yelling insults at one another about the president.
- In one exchange, about 8 seconds into the 2-minute video, a protester shouts “Where’s your white hood?” at the Trump supporters, implying the man was a member of the Klu Klux Klan. “Racist! Racist!” was also yelled. The man in the golf cart pumps his fist in the air, gives a thumbs up to the protestors, and says “White power!” twice. The two-minute video continues to show profane exchanges between protesters and other Trump supporters riding on more golf carts.
- “White power” is a white supremacist slogan, according to the Anti-Defamation League.
- Trump retweeted the video, which was shared by an unknown Twitter user, and said, “Thank you to the great people of The Villages. The Radical Left Do Nothing Democrats will Fall in the Fall. Corrupt Joe [Biden] is shot. See you soon!!!”
- The tweet was met with immediate backlash and widely criticized as racist and insensitive and as a demonstration of the president’s willingness to use social media to amplify the hateful comments of some of his followers, even at a moment of national unrest.
Unbelieveable, here’s the first part of Trump’s WHITE power tweet. pic.twitter.com/hfRfsx8Dwg
— Katy (@KatyVotingBlue) June 28, 2020
- Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina, the only black Republican senator, called the video “offensive” and asked Trump to take it off his Twitter page. “There is no question he should not have retweeted it, and he should just take it down,” Scott told CNN on Sunday morning. “We can play politics with it or we can’t. I’m not going to. I think it’s indefensible. We should take it down.”
- Within an hour of Scott’s comment, Trump deleted the tweet. However, Trump did not condemn the “white power” statement, specifically disavow the sentiment expressed by his supporter, or issue an apology for retweeting the content.
- In a statement, Judd Deere, the White House deputy press secretary, said, “President Trump is a big fan of The Villages. He did not hear the one statement made on the video. What he did see was tremendous enthusiasm from his many supporters.”
- Former Vice President and presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, Joe Biden, said in a tweet, “Today the President shared a video of people shouting ‘white power’ and said they were ‘great.’ Just like he did after Charlottesville. We’re in a battle for the soul of the nation — and the President has picked a side. But make no mistake: it’s a battle we will win.”
- John Bolton, the former national security adviser who also just released a book about Trump, said on Sunday that the president’s inattention to detail made it possible that he did not notice the racist comments. “He doesn’t pay attention to a lot of things,” Bolton said on the “State of the Union“, a CNN program. “It’s entirely possible that he tweeted this video because he saw the sign, I think it was in the first go-kart that said the Trump 2020 or something like that. That’s all he needed to see. Not paying attention. Not considering all the implications of information he gets.” Bolton added, “It may be that you can draw a conclusion that he heard it, and it was racist, and he tweeted it to promote the message. It’s a legitimate conclusion to draw”.
- The deletion of the video on Sunday was a rare instance in which Trump backed down in the face of criticism and removed a post from social media. His previous tweets have remained online despite Twitter’s warnings or public and political outcry.
President Trump has not addressed this incident directly and has continued to tweet about other topics.