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Trump Tweet Set Off Mad Scramble Among Aides

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President Trump set off a firestorm Sunday morning when he retweeted a video (watch it here, but note language) of a Trump supporter shouting "white power" to counterprotesters in a Florida retirement community.

The tweet came down about three hours later, and the White House said Trump hadn't realized what the man said. The story continues to percolate. Coverage:

  • Alarmed aides: The tweet went up about 7:40am and set off what one White House official tells NBC News was a "five-alarm fire" among aides who wanted it taken down immediately.

The problem: Trump was golfing at his club in Virginia and had put his phone away, per NBC. Efforts to reach deputy chief of staff Dan Scavino to have him take it down were unsuccessful.

  • Reaching out: The Washington Post also has a post-mortem, and it reports that White House press chief Kayleigh McEnany, Jared Kushner, and other top advisers eventually spoke with Trump, who gave the OK to remove the tweet about three hours after it went up.

In the interim, critics including Sen. Tim Scott, the lone African American senator in the GOP, called for the tweet to come down.

  • The chanter: The man who used the phrase has been identified as a 71-year-old retired Miami-Dade firefighter named Roger Stokes, reports the Miami Herald.

Stokes, a resident of the Villages, where the Trump rally and counterprotest took place, isn't commenting, but his former employer is. "The statement made by a longtime retired employee does not reflect Miami-Dade Fire Rescue's core values of integrity and respect for the diverse and multicultural community we serve," the department says in a statement.

"This retired employee acted as a private citizen and his views and actions are not representative of who we are and what we stand for."

  • What was not said: While the White House said Trump didn't hear the "white power" phrase, nobody there, including Trump, has denounced the sentiment, notes the Post.

Amanda Carpenter, former aide to Sen. Ted Cruz and a Trump critic, says this is telling. "What President Trump and every member of his campaign and the White House need to do is come out and say, 'We do not want votes from people who shout 'white power' or hold up white supremacist ideology, in any way, shape or form,'" she said.

"Until they do that, they’re stoking this."

  • Counterpoint: Nope, says Paris Dennard, top communications adviser for black media affairs at the Republican National Committee. "Deleting the tweet was a clear sign that President Trump did not agree with the comment," he said.

"Deleting the tweet was the condemnation, and it was the correct and responsible action." Trump, he added, "has always denounced and condemned racism, bigotry, and violence."

  • November implications: Both the Hill and Axios have pieces saying that the incident is causing consternation at the White House and in the GOP because it could hurt Trump's reelection chances.

Axios, for example, says the Trump retweet is another of his "egregious self-defeating acts" that has led to "widespread panic and pessimism" about Trump's prospects for reelection.

  • 2 views: Chris Cillizza at CNN isn't buying the notion that Trump didn't hear "white power," which comes just seconds into the video.

Why? History. "From a housing discrimination lawsuit in the 1970s to his comments about the 'Central Park 5' to his assertion that 'both sides' were to blame for white supremacist violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017—and dozens of smaller moments in between—Trump has again and again showed he simply does not get it when it comes to America's ongoing racial problems." Trump ally Sen.

Charles Grassley, meanwhile, thinks it's perfectly legit to think Trump didn't hear the phrase, per the Post: "I think that—how I have observed and sometimes do things without listening to every word—that that's not impossible, and I think he showed his sincerity" by removing it.

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