Trump was secretly recorded boasting on speakerphone about how many retweets he got on a post defending Confederate base names

President Donald Trump and Sen. James Inhofe at a White House meeting in June 2018. Win McNamee/Getty Images
  • A patron of a restaurant in Washington, DC, overheard and recorded a call between President Donald Trump and a congressional ally and then sent the recording to The New York Times.
  • In the call, Trump, who was on speakerphone, boasted about getting 95,000 retweets on a post about keeping the names of military bases named after Confederate figures.
  • “I had about 95,000 positive retweets on that. That’s a lot,” Trump told Sen. James Inhofe. It actually got about 34,000 retweets and 134,000 likes.
  • Trump has resisted the push to rename bases named after Confederate figures, but the US military has said it is considering doing so.
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President Donald Trump was recorded boasting on speakerphone to a Republican ally about getting thousands of retweets on a post about his enthusiastic support for keeping US military bases named after Confederate officers, The New York Times reported.

The call between Trump and Sen. James Inhofe, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, was recorded by a patron of an Italian restaurant in Washington, DC, on Wednesday night, The Times said.

Inhofe, the senior senator from Oklahoma, put the call on speakerphone, and the two were overheard discussing the push to rename Fort Lee in Virginia, named after the Confederate general Robert E. Lee.

“We’re going to keep the name of Robert E. Lee?” Trump asked. Inhofe responded, “Just trust me, I’ll make it happen.”

Trump responded: “I had about 95,000 positive retweets on that. That’s a lot.”

The president was apparently referring to his tweet last week that said Inhofe had told him “that he WILL NOT be changing the names of our great Military Bases and Forts, places from which we won two World Wars (and more!).”

“Like me, Jim is not a believer in ‘Cancel Culture,'” Trump added.

As of Friday, that tweet had about 34,500 retweets and 134,000 likes.^tfw

The two also reportedly discussed “cancel culture” more broadly, with Trump using an expletive to describe what The Times said was “the focus on the cultural shift taking place across the country.”

The push to rename the 10 US Army bases named after Confederate figures has become a political flashpoint. The Army has said it is considering renaming the bases following the anti-racism protests in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd, but the president has opposed the move.

It’s not the first time a speakerphone call from the president to an ally has been overheard.

An official at the US Embassy in Kyiv, Ukraine, told impeachment investigators last year that he had overheard the president talking with Gordon Sondland, the European Union ambassador, by phone in a restaurant.

The official testified that the ambassador told the president that Ukraine’s president was pressing ahead with an investigation into Trump’s Democratic rival Joe Biden.