President Trump told Fox News' Harris Faulkner in an exclusive interview that his planned Oklahoma rally on Juneteenth, a day commemorating the end of slavery in the U.S., should be looked at as a “celebration,” and not “an inconvenience.”
Trump made the comments in the interview that aired on “Outnumbered Overtime” on Friday following criticism from Democrats over the time and location of his next campaign rally -- June 19 in Tulsa -- the first since the events were put on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Tulsa was the site of a major anti-black riot and massacre in 1921 where a white mob killed dozens of black people and destroyed black-owned businesses. Critics are accusing Trump of sending a negative message to black Americans at a time when race relations are at the forefront of the national conversation after George Floyd’s death on May 25 while in the custody of Minneapolis police.
During the interview, Faulkner noted that Trump’s rally in Oklahoma is set for June 19 and asked, “Was that on purpose?”
"No, but I know exactly what you're going to say,” Trump said.
Faulkner responded by saying, “I’m just asking, I have not got anything to say.”
Trump then said, “Think about it as a celebration. My rallies are a celebration.”
He added, “We’re going to Oklahoma and if you think about it relative to your question, think about it as a celebration, don’t think about it as an inconvenience. Think about this as a celebration.”
Faulkner interjected saying, “No, no, no it’s on the day of African-American emancipation.”
“That’s right," Trump answered. "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.
“It’s going to be really a celebration and it’s an interesting date, it wasn’t done for that reason, but it’s an interesting date, but it’s a celebration.”
Some of the criticism over the time and location of Trump’s next campaign rally include a tweet from Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla., who wrote, “Tulsa was the site of the worst racist violence in American history. The president’s speech there on Juneteenth is a message to every Black American: more of the same.”
Other Democrats accused Trump of sending that message intentionally.
“99 years ago a white mob massacred hundreds of Black people in the Greenwood District of Tulsa,” Rep. Joe Kennedy III, D-Mass., tweeted on Thursday. “The most racist President of my lifetime knows exactly what message he’s sending when he goes there on Juneteenth.”
When asked whether it was appropriate for Trump to hold a rally in Tulsa on that day, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said that “the African-American community is very near and dear to his heart,” that “it is a meaningful day to him” and that the president “plans to share some of the progress made as we look forward at more that needs to be done, especially as we’re looking at this police reform.”
Fox News’ Ronn Blitzer contributed to this report.