President Trump retweeted a video Sunday morning that included one of his supporters at the sprawling Florida retirement community The Villages shouting "white power" while driving a golf cart. He left up the tweet, which he captioned: "Thank you to the great people of The Villages," for more than three hours before he deleted it. During those three hours, a "five-alarm fire" was raging at the White House as aides tried to reach Trump to urge him to take down the tweet, two White House officials tell NBC News. They couldn't reach him, the officials said, because "the president was at his golf club in Virginia and had put his phone down."
The senior advisers who eventually reached Trump included White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany and Jared Kushner, The Washington Post reports, and Trump finally gave the go-ahead to delete the tweet because he was "moved, in large part, by the public calls from Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, the Senate's only black Republican, to do just that." Scott had called the tweet "indefensible" on CNN.
White House spokespeople said Trump had not heard the "white power" chant, and McEnany clarified at Monday's press briefing that Trump had watched the tweet before retweeting it for his 82 million followers, but insisted "he did not hear that particular phrase." Other Trump advocates argued that Trump repudiated his supporter by deleting the tweet, but neither Trump nor anyone else at the White House has publicly condemned the "white power" comment.
The Villages Republican Club did, tweeting that the club was "appalled" by the video and insisting "this is NOT what we stand for and is NOT a reflection of Village residents," 97 percent of whom are white, while 1 percent are Black.
"As protests over police brutality and racial injustice have erupted across the country in recent weeks, Trump has dialed up his inflammatory rhetoric, repeatedly turning to racist tropes," the Post says, listing several examples. "The steady stream of racist and offensive language from Trump has convinced many Americans that the president is a racist, according to recent polling."