In the days before Donald Trump made a decision to change the date for a June 2020 rally, a Black Secret Service agent told him that holding it on Juneteenth would be “very offensive,” according to a new report.
In an excerpt from Wall Street Journal writer Michael Bender’s upcoming book, Frankly, We Did Win This Election: The Inside Story of How Trump Lost, Trump officials had discussed holding a rally on Juneteenth in Tulsa, Oklahoma because it was run by a Trump-friendly Republican and had the most flexible Covid restrictions in the country, Politico reports.
According to Bender, when Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale first recommended holding the Tulsa rally on June 19, no one had flagged concerns over the “combination of time and place – as potentially problematic.”
“Had Parscale bothered to ask Katrina Pierson, the highest-ranking Black staffer on the campaign and a close friend of Parscale’s, she would have told him that June 19 was Juneteenth, a significant holiday for Black Americans that commemorated the end of slavery,” writes Bender.
“She also would have said to him that Tulsa, as most Black Americans are well aware, had been home to one of the bloodiest outbreaks of racial violence in the nation’s history.”
After Republican National Committee staffers heard of the plans they warned Parscale against holding the Tulsa rally, and warned him: Don’t do this.”
“The media is not going to give us the benefit of the doubt, especially now,” RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said, according to Bender.
Despite the warning, the rally plans continued. It wasn’t until the Black Secret Service agent questioned Trump about the day.
“I know what it is. And it’s very offensive to me that you’re having this rally on Juneteenth,” the Secret Service agent told Trump, after the former president began questioning why no one told him the rally was scheduled on a historically significant day, according to Bender.
Subsequently, Trump famously proclaimed “Nobody had heard of” Juneteenth.
Bender writes that Trump was surprised to learn his own administration had put out statements in his first three years of office commemorating the holiday.
“Oh really?” Trump responded, according to Bender. “We put out a statement? The Trump White House put out a statement?”
“I made Juneteenth very famous,” Trump followed up, the journalist writes.