President Trump called on NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace to apologize after an FBI investigation determined there was no hate crime when an alleged “noose” was found in Wallace’s garage last month at the Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama, to which Wallace responded by calling such a request “HATE.”
“Has @BubbaWallace apologized to all of those great NASCAR drivers & officials who came to his aid, stood by his side, & were willing to sacrifice everything for him, only to find out that the whole thing was just another HOAX? That & Flag decision has caused lowest ratings EVER!” Trump tweeted Monday, adding a reference to NASCAR’s decision to ban the Confederate flag at its races after Wallace called on the sport to do so.
Wallace responded by tweeting a statement, saying “always deal with the hate being thrown at you with LOVE . . . Even when it’s HATE from the POTUS..”
— Bubba Wallace (@BubbaWallace) July 6, 2020
Wallace’s fellow drivers made a show of solidarity at Talladega by pushing Wallace’s car to the front of the starting queue of the race as the investigation was ongoing. The FBI eventually concluded that the noose, which served as a garage pull, was not directed at Wallace, and had been present in the garage “as early as October 2019.”
“We have concluded that no federal crime was committed,” the FBI said in a statement.
Wallace, who said he was told of the purported “noose” by NASCAR after a member of his pit crew reported it, said “photo evidence” showed that the garage pull “was definitely in the shape of a noose,” but “wasn’t a functioning noose.”
“I think we’ll gladly take a little embarrassment over what the alternatives could have been,” Wallace said later after the FBI’s investigation.
In a press briefing on Monday, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany was grilled over the president’s tweet, particularly his including of the Confederate flag reference.
“The intent of the tweet was to stand up for the men and women of NASCAR, the fans and those who have gone in this rush to judgment of the media to call something a hate crime when in fact the FBI report concluded this was not an intentional racist act,” McEnany stated. “It very much mirrors other times where there’s been a rush to judgment, let’s say with the Covington boys or with Jussie Smollett.”
Prominent Trump ally Senator Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) dismissed Trump’s tweet, telling Fox News Radio that “I don’t think Bubba Wallace has anything to apologize for.”