Trump overheard saying 'cancel culture' is 'bullsh*t' while seeking retention of Robert E Lee name on army base
Oklahoma Senator Jim Inhofe put the president on speakerphone while conversing in a public place in Washington and he was heard bragging about the positive retweets he got for Robert E Lee
President Donald Trump’s resistance to renaming symbols that are named after Confederate leaders is already known. But the same came to the fore recently as he was caught decrying "cancel culture" as "bulls***t" while speaking to a Republican senator who put him on a speakerphone at a restaurant in Capitol Hill. The president was speaking in favor of keeping the name of Robert E Lee, a commander of the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War, on army bases.
The New York Times obtained audio of the call that took place on Wednesday, July 29, night between Trump and Oklahoma Senator Jim Inhofe, who is also the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and was dining at an Italian restaurant. Trump told the 85-year-old Inhofe: "All right, my friend. Are you doing good? We're going to keep the name of Robert E Lee?" He was then heard saying: "I had about 95,000 positive retweets on that. That's a lot. 95,000's a lot. People like it."
Trump was speaking about a July 24 tweet
The president was talking about a tweet he posted on July 24 saying he had a word with Inhofe who had assured him that the amendment to rename military bases named after Confederate leaders wouldn’t remain in the Defense bill even though it has been passed by both chambers of the Congress with overwhelming support.
"I spoke to the highly respected (Chairman) Senator Jim Inhofe, who has informed me that he WILL NOT be changing the names of our great Military Bases and Forts, places from which we won two World Wars (and mores!). Like me, Jim is not a believer in 'Cancel Culture'," Trump said in his tweet.
I spoke to highly respected (Chairman) Senator @JimInhofe, who has informed me that he WILL NOT be changing the names of our great Military Bases and Forts, places from which we won two World Wars (and more!). Like me, Jim is not a believer in “Cancel Culture”.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 24, 2020
The tweet was retweeted and commented upon over 34,000 times while it was liked more than 134,000 times. MEA WorldWide (MEAWW) could not verify whether the retweets were "positive", as claimed by the president. Inhofe was heard saying he would "make it happen" but it was not clear how.
Trump was then heard saying: "They don't want cancel culture. People want to get back to life not this bulls**t. So it's very positive, I'll bet you had a lot of good." "Sure did, I appreciate it very much," Inhofe said. Though the veteran lawmaker held the device close to his ears, those sitting in neighboring tables could clearly hear Trump's words.
GOP-controlled Senate backs Warren's amendment proposal
It was only a day before Trump tweeted that the GOP-controlled Senate overwhelmingly passed its $741-billion defense policy legislation, which defied a threat from none other than Trump to veto legislation that would remove Confederate names from the bases of the army. The Senators approved the National Defense Authorization Act 86-14.
The proposal was made by Massachusetts Senator and former presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren amid protests over race relations and police brutality across US cities in the wake of the killing of George Floyd in May. Her proposal sought a renaming of military bases and other government assets honoring the Confederacy. The Inhofe-led committee adopted Warren's proposed amendment through voice vote during a closed hearing.
Trump has always been vocal against the move saying it will only erase America's history. Ten army bases bear names of Confederate military leaders, including Fort Lee, the Virginia-based headquarters of Combined Arms Support Command. He also slammed Warren for initiating the amendment.
The bill's companion in the House also got passed and includes a provision to rename bases like Fort Bragg (in North Carolina), but gives the Defense Department a deadline of only a year, instead of three that was outlined in the Senate amendment.
Trump called the bases a part of 'Great American Heritage'
Trump’s first reaction against the intent to rename military bases came on June 10 when he tweeted: “These Monumental and very Powerful Bases have become part of a Great American Heritage, and a history of Winning, Victory, and Freedom," Trump tweeted. "The United States of America trained and deployed our HEROES on these Hallowed Grounds, and won two World Wars." "Therefore, my Administration will not even consider the renaming of these Magnificent and Fabled Military Installations," he added.
A number of statues were being toppled across the country by anti-racism protesters, drawing the president's ire. However, some of Trump's top aides like Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy and Defense Secretary Mark Esper were not averse to the idea of renaming the bases. In July, Trump declined to call the Confederate flag a symbol of offense during a much-discussed interview with Fox News.