Trump was interviewed by Fox News host Harris Faulkner on Thursday, when the President visited Dallas to host a roundtable with law enforcement and community leaders in the wake of George Floyd’s death at the hands of police officers. In newly aired interview footage, Faulkner asked: “Your rally is set for June 19. Was that on purpose?”
“Uh, no, but I know exactly what you’re going to say. … Think about it as a celebration. My rally is a celebration,” Trump said, adding, “Don’t think about it as an inconvenience.”
The President will hold his first campaign reelection rally since the start of the pandemic on June 19 – the holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States.
“The fact that I’m having a rally on that day – you can really think about that very positively as a celebration. Because a rally to me is a celebration,” Trump said. “It’s an interesting date. It wasn’t done for that reason, but it’s an interesting date.”
But given Trump’s history of racist statements, including the birther movement, many instead see the upcoming campaign event as a call out to rally white supremacists.
Sen. Kamala Harris, a California Democrat who is widely viewed as a top contender to be Joe Biden’s vice presidential pick, blasted Trump’s decision to hold the rally there on Juneteenth.
“This isn’t just a wink to white supremacists – he’s throwing them a welcome home party,” she tweeted Thursday.
Harris has been critical of Trump’s posture on race, frequently saying he’s unfit to be president because he doesn’t understand the racial turmoil engulfing the nation.
Other Democratic leaders chimed in to slam the President for holding the rally at the site that bore a horrific act of communal racial violence 99 years ago.
While the President has said he sympathizes with peaceful protesters marching after Floyd’s death, he has a history of stoking racial animus, including calling some protesters “thugs” and threatened to deploy the military to “dominate” looters.
The Tulsa rally, Trump’s first since March 2, comes amid a national reckoning on systemic racism in the wake of Floyd’s killing, and a pandemic disproportionately impacting minority communities from both health and economic perspectives.
In 1921, Tulsa was the site of a massacre of hundreds of African Americans during racial unrest in the historic section of the city known as “Black Wall Street.”
Once considered one of the most affluent and flourishing African American communities in the country, the district of Greenwood enjoyed more than 300 black-owned businesses, including luxury hotels, theaters, doctors and a pharmacist. Initial reports of the attack by a white mob, which looted and burned businesses to the ground, said it took the lives of 36 people. But historians now believe as many as 300 died, according to the Tulsa Historical Society and Museum.
The President also claimed in the Fox interview he’s done more for African Americans than any other president, adding that he’d “take a pass on” Abraham Lincoln, whose actions, he said, were “questionable.”
But Trump pulled back from the suggestion when Faulkner brought up that Lincoln was responsible for signing the Emancipation Proclamation, which declared slaves in Confederate states free.
“I think I’ve done more for the black community than any other president, and let’s take a pass on Abraham Lincoln,” Trump said, “cause – he did good, although it’s always questionable, you know, in other words, the end result –”
“But we are free, Mr. President,” Faulkner interjected.
“But we are free. You understand what I mean,” Trump said, “So I’m going to take a pass on Abe.”
CNN’s Betsy Klein, Nikki Carvajal and Jasmine Wright contributed to this report.