Trump holds rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma

By Melissa Macaya, Maegan Vazquez, Joe Ruiz and Kyle Blaine, CNN

Updated 12:00 a.m. ET, June 21, 2020
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6:56 p.m. ET, June 20, 2020

Trump will no longer speak to an overflow crowd in Tulsa before main rally speech

From CNN's Ryan Nobles

A campaign source tells CNN's Ryan Nobles that the President will only make remarks inside the rally and no longer speak to an overflow crowd outside of his Tulsa rally.

A campaign source said the campaign had been leaning toward canceling the outdoor portion, for fear of angering the President if there aren't as many people there as he expected when he lands.

There are currently only a couple dozen people standing near the outdoor stage where Trump had been scheduled to speak.

A staffer for Vice President Mike Pence told CNN that Pence will not be speaking outside.

He is scheduled to speak indoors around 7:15 p.m. ET.

A CNN producer who signed up for rally tickets has received this text from the Trump campaign: "The Great American Comeback Celebration's almost here! Doors are OPEN at the BOK Center. Pres. Trump can't wait. There's still space!"

The Trump campaign had touted that more than one million people had requested tickets to the rally.

Here are scenes from the overflow locations taken by CNN's Jeremy Moorehead and Abby Phillip:

6:38 p.m. ET, June 20, 2020

Tulsa County reported a new daily record of coronavirus cases hours before Trump’s rally

From CNN's Kate Sullivan, Kristen Holmes and Ryan Nobles

Despite rising coronavirus cases in Oklahoma, President Trump is hosting a rally tonight in Tulsa that is expected to be attended by thousands.

Trump said in a Wall Street Journal interview earlier this week that some people at the rally this Saturday may catch coronavirus, but added “it’s a very small percentage.”

Oklahoma is seeing a steady increase in its average of new confirmed cases per day. Here are the latest figures:

  • As of 12 p.m. ET Saturday, the latest data from the Oklahoma State Department of Health, shows Tulsa County has the most cases of any county in the state: 2,206 cases total.
  • New cases in Tulsa County have also been climbing, and the county is now seeing its highest seven-day average for new cases at 97.3, according to the latest data from the Tulsa Health Department.
  • According to a CNN analysis of Johns Hopkins University data, Oklahoma averaged about 265 new cases per day over the week ending June 19, which is approximately 121% higher than the previous seven-day period.
  • Hospitalizations in the state have remained relatively stable throughout much of June, although they have ticked up slightly over the past several days, according to Covid Tracking Project data.

"Unfortunately, we continue to set new records in the number of cases reported in Tulsa County," Bruce Dart, the director of the Tulsa Health Department, said Wednesday at a news conference.

Dart recommended Wednesday that the Trump rally be postponed "until it's safer, until the data tells us that it's not as large a concern," to have people in enclosed spaces.

Rally attendees will not be required to maintain social distance or wear masks, despite the Trump administration's top public health officials stressing the importance of both measures in preventing the spread of coronavirus.

CNN's Abby Phillip spoke to Trump supporters outside the rally about the latest Covid-19 numbers:

6:28 p.m. ET, June 20, 2020

Trump supporters gather for rally in Tulsa

From CNN's Jeremy Moorhead

Hundreds of supporters gathered outside Tulsa's Bank of Oklahoma Center arena since early Saturday morning ahead of President Trump's rally.

Among the supporters was a visible law enforcement presence, according to video footage taken by CNN's Jeremy Moorhead.

Attendees began entering the rally arena roughly five hours before Trump was set to speak, and the overwhelming majority of them appeared to not be wearing masks. 

The Trump campaign has previously said that it takes "safety seriously," and noted hand sanitizer, temperature checks and masks will be provided to attendees, though actually wearing a mask won't be required.

Watch the videos below:

6:28 p.m. ET, June 20, 2020

Why the Trump campaign is pushing to still hold a rally despite coronavirus concerns

From CNN's Maegan Vazquez and Maeve Reston

People wait in line to attend President Trump's rally in Tulsa on Saturday, June 20.
People wait in line to attend President Trump's rally in Tulsa on Saturday, June 20. Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

Concerns about the potential spread of coronavirus and ongoing demonstrations against racial injustices do not appear to be stopping President Trump from visiting Tulsa on Saturday for his first rally since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

As Trump has used the last month to tout the nation's "transition to greatness" amid a pandemic affecting the Americans' health and wealth, the Oklahoma campaign event will serve as a political opportunity to signal to supporters that they're getting back to normal.

Trump is eager to resume the boisterous rallies that he believes were key to his 2016 victory at a time when his reelection prospects have dimmed, in large part because many Americans disapprove of his handling of both the coronavirus and his response to calls for racial justice that are gripping this country.

Trump is also seeking to shift public attention from his especially difficult week, which included a series of unflattering bombshells revealed in a new book by his former national security adviser John Bolton, who described Trump as unfit for the White House, and two setbacks for his administration on LGBTQ rights and immigration at the Supreme Court.

Late on Friday night, Trump's attorney general tried to oust a powerful US attorney who has investigated a number of associates of the President, but the Manhattan prosecutor refused to step down.

But health experts have cautioned that the rally could lead to increased coronavirus transmissions. And the Trump campaign, seeming to acknowledge the risk, has required prospective attendees to sign liability waivers in order to sign up for the event.

The event in Tulsa — the site of a 1921 massacre on African Americans — originally scheduled to take place on Juneteenth — the oldest regular celebration of the end of slavery in the United States — was announced two and a half weeks after the death of a Black man, George Floyd, at the hands of Minneapolis police officers.

Trump later pushed the rally forward a day, saying it was "out of respect" for his African American friends and supporters.

Though Trump has said he didn't originally schedule the event to take place on Juneteenth "on purpose," the campaign also seems to be utilizing the event for its Black surrogates to share the spotlight. The campaign is flying several Trump supporters, including more than two dozen Black Trump surrogates, to the event.

Asked Friday whether anyone in the White House had any reservations about proceeding with the rally despite a recent spike in coronavirus cases in Oklahoma, McEnany said no one was concerned.

“We are all on board for going to Oklahoma,” she said.