Donald Trump’s aides were reportedly unable to contact him for hours after he posted a video to his Twitter page of a supporter chanting “white power” because he had put his phone away and gone golfing.
Outcry over the president’s latest controversial tweet on Sunday was swift and fierce, with Senator Tim Scott (R—SC), the Senate’s sole black Republican, describing it as “indefensible” and imploring Mr Trump to remove the video from his profile.
But he could not be reached, as the president had put his phone away shortly after retweeting the video with a caption of his own to enjoy a day of golfing at his private club in Virginia, according to NBC News.
Mr Trump’s top advisers scrambled to address the backlash in what the news outlet described as a “five-alarm fire” at the White House, citing two unnamed officials.
The video showed a supporter of the president repeatedly shouting “white power” – a racist slogan used by white supremacists – at demonstrators taking part in a protest at The Villages, a retirement home in Florida.
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany claimed the president had not heard the video, though she said he watched it.
Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior White House adviser, spoke with the president after multiple key advisers conferred over a phone call to discuss the controversy, according to the Washington Post.
The president eventually agreed to delete the tweet, in which he described his apparent supporters seen on the video as “the great people of The Villages”.
Despite the video remaining on his page for nearly three hours, the White House declined to to provide an apology or statement rebuking the racist comments.
Judd Deere, White House deputy press secretary, said Mr Trump was “a big fan of The Villages” shortly after the tweet was finally deleted from the president’s page.
“He did not hear the one statement made on the video,” the deputy press secretary said. “What he did see was tremendous enthusiasm from his many supporters."
Former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee in the 2020 presidential elections, attacked Mr Trump over the tweet in a statement during the weekend, as anti-racist protests continued across the country sparked by the police-involved killing of George Floyd.
"Today the President shared a video of people shouting 'white power' and said they were 'great.' Just like he did after Charlottesville," Mr Biden said. "We're in a battle for the soul of the nation — and the President has picked a side. But make no mistake: it's a battle we will win."