It's not exactly a secret that Donald Trump loves holding campaign rallies and basking in the affection of his followers. The pandemic, of course, made such events impossible, and as a result, the president has gone without a fix for months.
Evidently, he's done waiting. Trump announced this week that his first coronavirus-era campaign event will be held on June 19 in Tulsa. It's not altogether clear why he chose this city for the event, since Oklahoma is not an electoral battleground. Complicating matters, the president is holding the rally on Juneteenth in the same city that had the worst incident of racial violence in American history.
Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.), chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, told NBC News yesterday, This is ridiculous and yet another slap in the face to black people."
But in case this weren't quite enough, the story took an unfortunate turn yesterday when the president's re-election campaign team made clear that it's adding a little something extra to next week's gathering.
President Donald Trump is set to resume his campaign rallies next week -- but attendees have to agree not to hold his campaign liable if they get the coronavirus in the 19,000-seat arena. An invitation for the June 19 event in Tulsa, Oklahoma asks people to register online for the event -- and waive their rights to sue if they get sick.
Ordinarily, those attending one of Trump's rallies simply get tickets, go through metal detectors, and then watch the president put on a little show. During a public-health crisis, however, the campaign's lawyers clearly recognized added liability concerns.
As such, attendees are now required to fill out a form that reads, in part, "By clicking register below, you are acknowledging that an inherent risk of exposure to COVID-19 exists in any public place where people are present. By attending the Rally, you and any guests voluntarily assume all risks related to exposure to COVID-19 and agree not to hold Donald J. Trump for President, Inc.," the rally site or organizers "liable for any illness or injury."
In other words, Trump wants people to show up and cheer for him during a pandemic -- in an indoor venue, surrounded by strangers -- and if they get sick as a result, that's their problem.
A Politico report added, "The page makes no mention of any social-distancing requirements or other safety precautions that will be in place at the rally, nor does it note the CDC's recommendation that Americans wear face coverings while indoors in situations where social distancing might be difficult."
Ironically, right around the time the president's campaign was trying to erect a liability shield, the president's surgeon general, Jerome Adams, was reminding the public, "The more we can keep distance between people, especially people we don't know, the harder it is for this virus to transmit."
By all appearances, Trump expects supporters in Tulsa to ignore the surgeon general's recommendations.