The 20,320-foot behemoth that anchors Denali National Park was named for the former president in 1896
During the campaign, Trump railed against Obama's move to rename the mountain Denali
President Donald Trump, during a meeting earlier this year with Alaska’s two Republican senators, asked about reversing a decision made by the Obama administration and renaming the nation’s largest mountain, according to Sen. Dan Sullivan.
In a nod to Alaska’s native population, former President Barack Obama announced in 2015 that he was officially renaming the country’s tallest mountain from Mt. McKinley to Denali, its name in the indigenous Athabascan language.
But during a March 2017 meeting in the Oval Office with Trump and Sen. Lisa Murkowski, the President asked about changing the name back, Sullivan told the Alaska Federation of Natives convention, as reported by the Anchorage Dispatch News.
The meeting came as Trump and the senators discussed several Obama administration moves limiting development in Alaska.
But Trump had one final issue on his mind. “He looked at me and said, ‘I heard that the big mountain in Alaska also had – also its name was changed by executive action. Do you want us to reverse that?’” Sullivan said.
“Lisa – Sen. Murkowski – and I jumped over the desk,” Sullivan said. “We said no, no!”
Trump, perplexed that the two Republicans wanted to keep an Obama-era decision, asked why.
“The Alaska Native people named that mountain over 10,000 years ago,” Sullivan said. “Denali, that was the name.”
Sullivan’s office confirmed the conversation to CNN. The White House declined to comment.
A spokesperson for Murkowski said Trump didn’t express an explicit desire to change the name, but simply asked the Alaska senators if it’s something he “should do” to reverse Obama’s actions.
The 20,320-foot behemoth that anchors Denali National Park was named for the former president in 1896, shortly after President William McKinley was nominated as a candidate for office.
During the campaign, Trump railed against Obama’s move to rename the mountain Denali.
“President Obama wants to change the name of Mt. McKinley to Denali after more than 100 years,” Trump tweeted after Obama announced his decision. “Great insult to Ohio. I will change back!”
Trump was backed up by politicians from McKinley’s home state – Ohio – who protested that changing the name was disrespecting the nation’s 25th president, who was assassinated in 1901 while in office.
Trump, since taking office in January, has systematically chipped away at numerous decisions made under Obama, including moves to undermine the former president’s sweeping health care law and his nuclear deal with Iran.
This story has been updated.