After President Donald Trump shared a video on Twitter this past weekend, showcasing one of his supporters shouting out “white power” toward others protesting against the president, the White House scrambled to get him to take the tweet down, as it had generated a great amount of condemnation online for the racist remark.
Aides were unable to reach Trump, however, because the president was golfing and had set his phone down, according to their account of the matter.
Trump on Sunday shared the video, praising the individuals showing their support of him. “Thank you to the great people of The Villages,” he wrote in a tweet, referencing the Florida retirement community where the incident had taken place.
Trump deleted the tweet several hours later that same day. White House spokesman Judd Deere explained to reporters that Trump hadn’t heard the racist statement made by the man in the video. The White House wouldn’t comment further, however, on whether it condemned those remarks.
According to a report from NBC News on Tuesday morning, however, aides were scrambling during those few hours to get Trump to remove the tweet, describing the situation as a “five-alarm fire” because they were unable to reach him to do so.
Trump was golfing at his club in Virginia when efforts to reach him were made. The White House also tried to reach deputy chief of staff Dan Scavino, who helps the president manage his Twitter account.
Once Trump was reached, he agreed with staff that the tweet should be deleted, especially after condemnations from Sen. Tim Scott, the only Black Republican in the Senate, were brought to his attention.
While aides told NBC News about these frantic attempts to reach the president to get him to delete the tweet, others were more skeptical about the tale. Joyce Alene, a professor of law at the University of Alabama and a former federal prosecutor, expressed doubts about the story.
“I don’t buy this,” Alene wrote in a tweet. “If the President’s top aides can’t reach him for 3 hours while he’s playing golf, this WH is even more dangerously dysfunctional than we’ve been led to believe.”
Democratic congressional aide Dan Riffle also expressed being surprised by the fact Trump was unreachable.
“It’s Trump, so the ‘white power’ video honestly, sadly didn’t shock me,” Riffle said on Twitter. “It is shocking though that the president can be unreachable for three hours while golfing. Somewhere there is an assistant regional manager of a Staples who has to always be on call.”
Stephen Schwartz, a nonresident senior fellow at the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, an organization dedicated to informing the public about human-made existential threats, expressed relief that it was nothing more serious that required the president’s attention.
“Good thing it wasn’t a national emergency then,” Schwartz wrote. “Did no one try to reach Trump via the Secret Service or the White House Military Office? Or just call the club and track him down?”
There are also doubts over whether Trump did not hear his supporter shout out “white power” in the post he originally promoted, as it happened within the first 10 seconds of the video.
As NBC News also pointed out in its reporting, Trump has suggested in the past that he vets his social media posts before sharing them. When he shared a tweet that included the hashtag “#FireFauci”, for example, he was asked if he had seen that tag being promoted before retweeting it.
“Yeah, I notice everything,” Trump said in response.