Campaign

Documents show Trump campaign ignored coronavirus guidelines at Duluth rally: report

President Trump's reelection campaign seemingly ignored previously agreed upon health guidelines at its Sept. 30 rally in Duluth, Minn., just two days before the president was diagnosed with COVID-19, according to documents obtained by The Washington Post

The Post reported Saturday that in the days leading up to the Duluth rally, the Trump campaign signed an agreement with local officials to follow health guidelines aimed at limiting the spread of the virus, including capping rally attendance at 250 people. 

However, as Trump supporters arrived at the tarmac of Duluth International Airport hours ahead of the rally, with many not socially distancing or wearing face masks, an airport official contacted the campaign. 

"We have been notified that the 250 person limit has been exceeded," an airport representative reportedly wrote in an email. "This email serves as our notice of a contract violation and we are requesting you remedy the situation."

According to the Post, the campaign did not respond to the email or take any actions to address the warning. 

Airport officials later estimated that more than 2,500 people attended the Duluth rally. 

The Post reported that additional emails and documents obtained through open-records requests showed that while local officials suspected the campaign would not adhere to the agreement, they resisted directly enforcing the guidelines due to fear of backlash. 

"We will not incite an incident by unilaterally taking physical action to close the event," Tom Werner, the airport's executive director, reportedly wrote to the airport's appointed board members the morning before the rally.

In a statement to the Post, the Duluth Airport Authority (DAA) said, "It was made clear to the Trump Campaign, in the lead up to the event, that compliance with the State of Minnesota's current public health executive orders was an expectation of the DAA." 

According to the Post, Minnesota public health officials have traced 19 coronavirus cases to a pair of Trump rallies in the state in September, with three tied to the Duluth event. 

Representatives for the Trump campaign did not immediately respond to The Hill's request for comment. 

Two days after the rally, Trump announced that he and first lady Melania Trump had contracted COVID-19, following news that top Trump aide Hope Hicks tested positive. Hicks was among those who accompanied the President on his trip to Duluth. 

In the days after Trump's diagnosis, several members of the president's inner circle also announced they had tested positive, including Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), former White House counselor Kellyanne Conway and top White House policy adviser Stephen Miller. 

Trump has since returned to the campaign trail with a packed schedule of in-person campaign rallies, including ones in North Carolina, Ohio and Wisconsin on Saturday alone. 

The president is also scheduled to hold additional events in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and Nebraska between Monday and Tuesday as the campaign hopes to rally enthusiasm from supporters in key swing states with nearly a week to go until Election Day.

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