Trump mocks push to rename Fort Bragg: 'We're going to name it after the Rev. Al Sharpton?'

President TrumpDonald John TrumpDemocrat calls on White House to withdraw ambassador to Belarus nominee TikTok collected data from mobile devices to track Android users: report Peterson wins Minnesota House primary in crucial swing district MORE on Sunday mocked efforts to rename Fort Bragg, a military base in North Carolina named after Confederate Gen. Braxton Bragg, amid continued protests against racism in the nation, asking at one point, “We’re going to name it after the Rev. Al Sharpton?” 

The moment, which immediately prompted viral backlash on social media, came shortly after Trump was pressed by Fox News anchor Chris WallaceChristopher (Chris) WallaceMnuchin: Democrats will 'have a lot of explaining to do' if they want to challenge Trump orders in court Pelosi: Trump executive actions 'are illusions' Trump teases order requiring insurers to cover preexisting conditions MORE about the matter on early Sunday after he vowed to veto a defense spending bill if it required bases like Fort Bragg and others named after Confederate leaders to be renamed.

In the interview, Trump said he doesn’t “care what the military says” with regards to the matter, after Defense Secretary Mark EsperMark EsperOvernight Defense: Esper confirms plans to drop below 5,000 troops in Afghanistan | State Department says it's cleared of wrongdoing in emergency arms sales before investigation's release 400 'hard-core' Taliban prisoners to be released ahead of Afghan peace talks Esper says officials still don't know source of Beirut blast MORE and Army Secretary Ryan McCarthyRyan McCarthyMaryland GOP governor: Fauci has 'never let me' down Trump mocks push to rename Fort Bragg: 'We're going to name it after the Rev. Al Sharpton?' Pentagon mulling plan to ban Confederate flag without mentioning it by name: report MORE said they’re open to discussion on the topic. 

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“I’m supposed to make the decision,” he continued. “Fort Bragg is a big deal. We won two World Wars. No one even knows General Bragg. We won two World Wars. Go to that community where Fort Bragg is, in a great state, I love that state, go to the community, say how do you like the idea of renaming Fort Bragg, and then what are we going to name it?”

 

“We’re going to name it after the Rev. Al Sharpton? What are you going to name it, Chris, tell me what you’re going to name it?” he continued.

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His remarks about Sharpton sparked criticism online and prompted the civil rights leader and political commentator’s name to trend on Twitter.

Sharpton addressed Trump's remarks in a broadcast on MSNBC hours later, saying he "appreciated the boost."

"But let me say this," Sharpton went on, "why not name it after people that served in the military for this country rather than traitors? Name it after Crispus Attucks, the first person in the American Revolution to die to make the country free? He was a Black man."

"Name it after one of the Tuskegee Airmen, Percy Sutton, who you knew in New York, who served in the armed forces when it was still segregated. Why not take seriously the contributions of people that those that have these military bases named after them fought to either keep them enslaved and in free servitude and treated them as less than human?”

“That’s what Mr. Bragg and Mr. Lee stood for,” he continued, appearing to refer to Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. “They were military officers that fought to overthrow a government that you now lead.”

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The comments by Trump come as a number of lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have voiced support for the inclusion of a provision to have the names of Confederate leaders removed from military bases in the National Defense Authorization Act.

When discussing the possibility of Trump vetoing the bill, which includes language requiring the Pentagon to remove the names in legislation from the House and Senate, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellMcConnell warns control of Senate 'could go either way' in November On The Money: McConnell says it's time to restart coronavirus talks | New report finds majority of Americans support merger moratorium | Corporate bankruptcies on pace for 10-year high McConnell: Time to restart coronavirus talks MORE said earlier this month that he “would hope the president really wouldn't veto the bill over this issue.” 

“I hope the president will reconsider vetoing the entire defense bill, which includes pay raises for our troops, over a provision in there that could lead to changing the names,” he continued.

Wallace brought up a similar point during his interview with Trump on Sunday.

“Now, this a bill that funds military operations, it gives soldiers a pay raise.  You’re going to veto that?” he asked.

“Hey, look. Don’t tell me this. I got soldiers the biggest pay raises in the history of our military … I did more for the military than any president that’s ever had this office,” Trump claimed in response.

After going on to repeatedly tout the history of Fort Bragg and other bases named after leaders of the pro-slavery Civil War-era cause, Trump then goes on to say that he is still against the renaming of military bases.

“I’m not going to go changing them,” Trump told Wallace.

“So you’ll veto it,” he asked.

“I might, yeah,” the president answered.