President Trump was asked about a tweet he shared where he seemed to be inviting his supporters to gather in counter-protest of those who might demonstrate again at the White House on Saturday night.
Trump denied his intent was to provoke violence when asked about his Saturday morning tweet that not only disparaged those who protested at the White House on Friday night but also included an invite of sorts to his supporters to show up on Pennsylvania Avenue on Saturday night, writing, “Tonight, I understand, is MAGA NIGHT AT THE WHITE HOUSE???”
The professionally managed so-called “protesters” at the White House had little to do with the memory of George Floyd. They were just there to cause trouble. The @SecretService handled them easily. Tonight, I understand, is MAGA NIGHT AT THE WHITE HOUSE???
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 30, 2020
Trump was asked by a reporter: “With your tweets today, are you concerned that you might be stoking more racial violence or more racial discord?”
“No no, not at all,” Trump answered. “MAGA says make America great again. These are people that love our country.”
Trump then played his phony plausible deniability card, adding, “I have no idea if they’re going to be here. I was just asking.”
The president continued by praising his supporters’ supposed non-racist tendencies but at the same time made it clear that MAGA included very few black people.
“MAGA is make America great again,” Trump said. “By the way, they love African American people, they love black people. MAGA loves the black people.”
Trump continued, “I heard that MAGA wanted to be at the White House to protest], a lot of MAGA was going to be there. I have no idea if that’s true or not, but they love our country. Remember, MAGA, it’s just an expression, but MAGA loves our country.”
A reporter then asked Trump, “Aren’t you encouraging your supporters] to hold a counter-protest?”
After stumbling a bit on the question Trump said, “I don’t care.”
Question: With your tweet today, are you concerned that you may be stoking more racial violence?
Trump: No not at all… I have no idea if they’re going to be here. By the way, they love African Americans, they love black people. MAGA loves the black people. pic.twitter.com/SCnTY3ZRhX
— Acyn Torabi (@Acyn) May 30, 2020
But he does. He does care. He wants his supporters to show up. His tweet from earlier on Saturday sent that signal to his supporters, and then his answer to the reporter makes it even more clear that he’s rooting for a clash. If the opposite were true, the president would tell his most ardent supporters to avoid this obviously dangerous collision course.