President Donald Trump on Monday blasted NASCAR for banning the Confederate flag and wrongly accused the sport’s only Black driver, Bubba Wallace, of perpetrating “a hoax” involving a rope shaped like a noose in his garage.
Watch White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany’s Monday news briefing above.
Trump suggested Wallace should apologize after one of his crew members discovered the rope in a garage stall they had been assigned to. Federal authorities ruled last month that the rope had been hanging there since at least last October and was not a hate crime. Wallace has maintained the rope had been fashioned into a noose and has said he was saddened by “the despicable act of racism and hatred,” and other Cup Series drivers rallied around him.
“Has BubbaWallace apologized to all of those great NASCAR drivers & officials who came to his aid, stood by his side, & were willing to sacrifice everything for him, only to find out that the whole thing was just another HOAX?” Trump tweeted. “That & Flag decision has caused lowest ratings EVER!”
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany defended the president’s decision to wade into the Wallace case, saying that reporters were mischaracterizing the president’s tweet and were taking his comments about the Confederate flag out of context.
“The whole point of the tweet was to note the incident, the alleged hate crime that was not in fact a hate crime,” she said.
McEnany said the president “rejects this notion that somehow NASCAR men and women, who go to these sporting events, are racists,” and that the FBI report on the matter was an “indictment of the media’s rush to judgment.”
Wallace, an Alabama native, has taken an active role in the push for racial equality. He has worn a shirt saying “I Can’t Breathe,” raced with a Black Lives Matter paint scheme in Virginia and successfully lobbied for NASCAR’s Confederate flag ban.
For more than 70 years, the flag was a common and complicated sight at NASCAR races. The series first tried to ban the Confederate flag five years ago but did nothing to enforce the order.
While Trump claimed NASCAR’s ratings are down, they are actually up.