President Donald Trump held his first indoor campaign rally in three months in Henderson, Nevada on Sunday, ignoring the state’s COVID-19 emergency directives and warnings from his own officials.
Nevada currently has a ban on gatherings of more than 50 people due to the deadly pandemic sweeping the nation. As a result, venues and businesses that violate these regulations risk paying a $500 fine and potentially losing their business licenses.
Of course this did not deter the President from holding the rally anyway, hosting the event at Xtreme Manufacturing, where nearly 5,600 people showed up.
The last indoor Trump rally took place in Tulsa, Oklahoma in June and resulted in a surge in coronavirus cases across the city. Even some of the President’s Secret Service agents and campaign staff tested positive for the virus shortly after the event.
Concerned for the safety of his constituents and the stability of his state, Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) condemned Trump’s decision to hold the rally indoors, calling it “reckless” and warning that he was “putting countless lives in danger.”
“This is an insult to every Nevadan who has followed the directives, made sacrifices, and put their neighbors before themselves,” Sisolak tweeted on Sunday.
“It’s also a direct threat to all of the recent progress we’ve made and could potentially set us back. As usual, he doesn’t believe the rules apply to him.”
Just hours before the rally, Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh released a statement responding to this criticism, claiming that if people can protest or go to a casino, “you can gather peacefully under the 1st Amendment to hear from the president of the United States.”
This statement comes despite the fact that even the President’s own senior advisers and administration officials have repeatedly warned him that large, indoor rallies could help spread the virus.
While a Trump campaign official told CNN that those in attendance on Sunday had their temperature taken and were given a face mask that they were “encouraged” to wear, many chose not to.
In fact, only the people sitting directly behind the President, and in view of the camera, were seen wearing masks.
During the rally, Trump sang a familiar tune, lying to his supporters to rile them up and blaming his problems on everyone else.
Trump falsely claimed that Democratic Presidential nominee Joe Biden is endangering the police and called Americans protesting racial injustice and police brutality “arsonists” and “anarchists.”
He also said that Biden is trying to “appease domestic terrorists,” despite the fact that he has repeatedly condemned violence and looting. The President, on the other hand, defended Kyle Rittenhouse, the 17-year-old who murdered two people in Kenosha, Wisconsin last month.
At one point, the crowd reportedly erupted in a chilling chorus of “all lives matter,” after someone tried to interrupt Trump while he was speaking.
Throughout the event, the President tackled vaccine development, flag burning, football, Hispanic and Latino voters, MMA fighters, extrajudicial killings, and the coronavirus, falsely claiming that state COVID-19 restrictions are part of a political ploy to hurt his reelection chances.
“You have a governor right now who is a political hack. Tell your governor to open up your state, by the way,” Trump told his supporters in Nevada.
This comment comes less than a week after a recording from journalist Bob Woodward revealed that the President knew that COVID-19 was both airborne and deadlier than the flu all the way back in February, but deliberately chose to downplay the virus anyway.
As of Monday, around 194,000 people have died from the coronavirus in the US. In Nevada, in particular, 73,650 people have tested positive for COVID-19 and 1,454 people have died.
While Gov. Sisolak voiced his concern on Sunday that Trump "appears to have forgotten that this country is still in the middle of a global pandemic,” the much more terrifying and disheartening reality is that he hasn’t. This, too, is deliberate.