WH Struggles To Explain Trump’s Tweet Seemingly Defending Confederate Flag

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany speaks during the press briefing at the White House in Washington, DC on July 6, 2020. (Photo by JIM WATSON / AFP) (Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)
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July 6, 2020 3:16 p.m.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany on Monday attempted to defend President Trump’s tweet that baselessly accused NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace of creating a “hoax” following the controversy that ensued over a noose found in his garage stall last month. 

In a Monday morning tweet, the President demanded that Wallace, the only Black competitor in the top-level Cup Series, apologize to NASCAR drivers and officials after an FBI investigation found that the noose had been in his garage stall months before it was assigned to him. Trump added that the scandal prompted by Wallace’s finding of the noose in his garage stall along with NASCAR’s “flag decision” — referring to its move to ban the Confederate flag from its events late last month — caused the auto racing company’s ratings to tank.

Hours after Trump’s tweet, McEnany was pressed repeatedly on it during a White House press briefing.

When asked why the President appears to support the flying the Confederate flag, McEnany accused the reporter who posed the question of “mischaracterizing” the tweet and explained that it was aimed at pointing out the FBI’s investigation on the matter.

Asked again later in the briefing about the President’s tweet and whether he thinks NASCAR made a mistake by banning the Confederate flag, McEnany claimed that she spoke to Trump this morning and he told her he “was not making a judgment one way or the other.”

McEnany then slammed the media for its coverage of the NASCAR scandal.

“The intent of the tweet was to stand up for the men and women of NASCAR and the fans and those who have gone,” McEnany said. “This rush of judgment of the media to call something a hate crime when, in fact, the FBI report concluded this was not an intentional racist act. And it very much mirrors other times when there’s been a rush to judgment — let’s say with the Covington Boys and Jussie Smollett.”

When asked again whether Trump thinks it was a mistake for NASCAR to ban the Confederate flag, McEnany responded by accusing the reporter of “focusing on one word” at the bottom of the President’s tweet.

“The President said he wasn’t making a judgment one way or the other. You are focusing on one word at the very bottom of the tweet,” McEnany said. “That is completely taking it out of context and neglecting the complete rush to judgment.”

McEnany went on to repeat similar talking points throughout the rest of the briefing, arguing that the President’s tweet was intended to defend NASCAR men and women who are being accused of being racist, to point out that the FBI did not find a hate crime against Wallace and that it did “not indicate approval or disapproval of that particular policy at NASCAR.”

NASCAR responded to Trump’s tweet shortly after the White House briefing ended by defending Wallace in a Monday afternoon statement.

“We are proud to have Bubba Wallace in the NASCAR family and we commend his courage and leadership,” NASCAR wrote in its statement. “NASCAR continues to stand tall with Bubba, our competitors and everyone who makes our sport welcoming and inclusive for all racing fans.”

Watch McEnany’s remarks below:

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