Donald Trump’s chief of staff allegedly brushed off initial concerns about the death of George Floyd and claimed that “nobody is going to care about that”, before demonstrations erupted on the doorstep of the White House.
According to a new book by journalist Michael C Bender, Frankly, We Did Win This Election: The Inside Story of How Trump Lost, White House aides were discussing the ongoing Covid crisis on 26 May when the subject of Mr Floyd’s death was bought up.
Mr Floyd, a Black resident of Minneapolis, Minnesota, was murdered by officer Derek Chauvin who kneeled on his neck for more than nine minutes on 25 May. The incident was caught on mobile footage, and would soon catch the attention of the American public.
The president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, allegedly told aides during that 26 May meeting that another story was soon going to dominate “for the foreseeable future”, in reference to the death of Mr Floyd.
“I’m just going to stop you,” Mr Kushner told another White House aide, discussing Covid. “There is going to be one story that dominates absolutely everything for the foreseeable future.”
“I’m already hearing from African American leaders about the death of George Floyd in Minnesota,” Mr Kushner told the room, Mr Bender, a reporter for the Wall Street Journal, wrote.
The death of Mr Floyd went on to cause months of demonstrations in Minneapolis and across the United States, and within a week would be at the front gates of the White House.
According to Mr Bender, Mr Trump watched the mobile footage of Mr Floyd’s death onboard Air Force One on 27 May – the day after Mr Meadow’s remarks – and commented: “This is f******terrible”.
Members of the National Guard were deployed and barriers installed to defend the former president from protesters, who were calling for racial justice in the days after 25 May.
It followed Mr Trump tweeting that demonstrators were “THUGS” who were “dishonouring the memory of George Floyd”, adding: “When the looting starts, the shooting starts. Thank you!”
The remarks were immediately criticised for inciting violence and inflaming tensions.
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies