He might be at the center of an impeachment inquiry in Washington, D.C., but that’s not stopping President Trump from waging a petty dispute 1,100 miles away. His target is Jacob Frey, the 37-year-old mayor of Minneapolis, whom Trump and his campaign are accusing of extortion related to a “Keep America Great” rally scheduled for Thursday.
Trump’s complaints start with the cost of the rally. City officials have attempted to pass the bill for Trump’s visit — which they say will total $530,000 — on to the Target Center, the downtown arena where the rally is to be held. AEG Management, which owns the arena, tried to secure payment from the Trump campaign, saying the event could not be held unless the bill was paid up front. The campaign called this extortion, claiming a refusal to allow the rally to go ahead would be breach of contract. In a letter to AEG Management, the Trump campaign’s legal team said it “will aggressively pursue all remedies available to it in law or equity.”
In need of someone to blame, Trump and his campaign have chosen Frey, who said last month that he couldn’t keep Trump from coming to town but assured locals that the president’s “message of hatred will never be welcome in Minneapolis.”
In a tweet Monday, Trump’s campaign manager Brad Parscale wrote: “The radical Mayor of Minneapolis, @Jacob_Frey, is abusing his power in an attempt to block the President’s supporters from seeing him speak on Thursday.” Trump retweeted Parscale Tuesday and added a well-worn insult, calling Frey a “lightweight.” Frey replied:
The rally has also caused internal controversy in Minneapolis, where there’s a new policy forbidding local police from wearing uniforms to political functions while off duty. The head of the local police union said he was told of the policy change the day after Trump’s rally was announced, but the police department said the policy had been under consideration for months.
Unable to wear their uniforms to the rally, many members of the Minneapolis police will instead wear custom shirts that say “Cops for Trump.” Union head Bob Kroll went on Fox News last week to promote the shirts and explain his problem with the new policy. “My members are outraged,” he said. “A lot of them want to be there; they want to be in the backdrop, have an opportunity to meet him. He’s shown that he’s a very pro-law-enforcement president.”
Trump gave Kroll a shout-out Tuesday, tweeting, “Thank you to Lt. Bob Kroll of the great Minneapolis Police Department for your kind words on @foxandfriends. The Police are fighting the Radical Left Mayor, and his ridiculous Uniform Ban. Actually, I LOVE the Cops for Trump shirts. Want to bring some home. I am with you 100%!!!!”
Trump has previously clashed with local governments over the cost of hosting his mega MAGA rallies. As of June, Trump still owed at least ten cities hundreds of thousands of dollars for rallies held since early 2016, according to the Center for Public Integrity. The biggest outstanding bill is from El Paso, Texas, where Trump held a rally in February to whip up fear of migrants. As of last week, the campaign still owed El Paso $560,000 after the city “provided security, some aviation assistance and busing,” the El Paso Times reports. Also last week, the Trump campaign and the RNC reported raising $125 million in the third quarter of 2019.