Chair Grijalva to Trump, Sec. Bernhardt: May 3 Campaign-Style Event at Lincoln Memorial is Inappropriate, Needs to be Canceled

Note: The original version of this press release incorrectly stated the president's event was scheduled for May 15. It is scheduled for May 3. The correction has been made to the online version of this release.

Washington, D.C. – Chair Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) wrote to President Trump and Interior Secretary David Bernhardt today urging them to cancel the president’s inappropriate campaign-style rally scheduled for May 3 at the Lincoln Memorial, which is supposedly closed for events through at least May 15 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Much like your efforts to keep national parks open and to avoid closing businesses, this sort of ‘leadership’ is out of touch with what Americans want or need,” Grijalva writes. The full letter is available at https://bit.ly/2SqrvVH.

Trump announced the event without announcing enforceable social distancing measures, and Grijalva points out that such an event on the National Mall “will encourage a crowd.” Beyond the immediate risk to attendees, Grijalva writes, “At worst, this campaign style event will signal to millions that they no longer need to social distance.”

Trump has come under withering scrutiny in recent days for his incoherent press briefings, unsupported medical claims and inconsistent messaging about his administration’s level of responsibility for responding to a national emergency. Grijalva writes that holding a campaign-style rally in public on federal property, without clear social distancing measures, “only serves to continue this pattern of confusion and misinformation.”

Ultimately, Grijalva points out, the real issue is the president’s role as a national leader: “Using your position as President to flout public health mandates, park closures, and park permitting processes to discuss reopening America is highly inappropriate while case numbers are on the rise here in D.C., in my home state of Arizona, and in towns, counties, and cities across the nation. I assure you, Mr. President, that opening the country too soon is not in America’s best interest, even if you think it is in your political interest.”

The Lincoln Memorial event comes less than a month after the Interior Department, in a widely criticized decision, kept Grand Canyon National Park open until an employee for one of the park’s contractors contracted COVID-19. Chair Grijalva led the push to close the park in the interest of public health, which Secretary Bernhardt ignored until the risks became too obvious to ignore.

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