White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany on Monday justified President Donald Trump’s tweet falsely accusing Black NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace of a hate-crime “hoax,” invoking Jussie Smollett to claim the president was merely making a “broader point” about rushing to judgment without facts.
After devoting much of his Fourth of July weekend speeches to stoking culture-war grievances, the president fired off a tweet blasting NASCAR’s only full-time Black driver, despite Wallace not being in the news for weeks.
“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? That & Flag decision has caused lowest ratings EVER!” Trump blared, also slamming the racing league for banning the Confederate flag.
Last month, the FBI investigated a noose that was found hanging in Wallace’s garage and determined he was not the target of a hate crime, noting that it had been there since last year. Photos emerged later clearly showing the rope was a noose, meanwhile, and NASCAR stated it was unable to find any other garage pulls fashioned that way.
Interviewing McEnany on Fox News’ America’s Newsroom, co-anchor Sandra Smith brought up the president’s tweet, noting that the noose was “never determined to be a hoax” while wondering aloud if it was “helpful” for Trump to go after Wallace and accuse him of being behind a “hoax.”
“So NASCAR would note, their statement says that this garage pull rope was there since last fall,” McEnany replied. “And they also said definitively, the FBI investigation determined it, that there was no hate crime versus Bubba [that was] committed.”
“The president is making a broader point that this rush to judgment, before the facts are out, is not acceptable,” she continued. “We saw it with the Covington kids and saw it with Jussie Smollett, and now we saw it in this case.”
Smith, for her part, jumped in to point out that many would say “that comparison was unfair,” considering Smollett allegedly staged a hate crime against himself while Wallace wasn’t involved in reporting the noose found in his garage and was informed about it by NASCAR leadership.
“He truly believes that’s what it was,” Smith added, referencing Wallace’s later statements pointing out that the rope was fashioned into a noose.
“Well, the Federal Bureau of Investigation does not stand by that assessment,” the White House flack responded. “The president is merely pointing out that we have to let the facts come out before we rush to judgment and there was no hate crime committed against Bubba Wallace as determined by the FBI and as noted in the NASCAR statement.”
“We will leave it there, we got to go,” Smith concluded, wrapping up the segment.
The Fox News anchor, meanwhile, did not address the president expressing support for the racist Confederate flag in his tweet or his false claim that NASCAR’s ratings are way down after banning the flag from their races. (Fox Sports noted that the league’s TV ratings are actually up 8 percent since racing resumed this spring.)