Mourners who paid their respects to Ruth Bader Ginsburg by visiting her casket Thursday morning at the Supreme Court did not pay respect to President Trump upon his arrival. As the president and First Lady stood amid the Corinthian columns behind the late justice’s flag-strewn casket, the crowd at the viewing booed him and began chanting “vote him out.”
“One group started and then we all kind of joined in together because, you know, I feel like it’s disrespectful for him to be here, quite frankly,” Tiarra Keeton, who drove 12 hours from upstate New York to make the viewing, told BuzzFeed News.
President Trump, in a rare public appearance wearing a mask, had a different perspective. “I think that was just a political chant,” he told reporters on the South Lawn of the White House on Thursday afternoon. “We could hardly hear it from where we were. Somebody said there was some chanting. But they were right next to the media. But we could hardly hear too much. We heard a sound but it wasn’t very strong.”
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany condemned the dissent more forcefully. “The chants were appalling but certainly to be expected when you’re in the heart of the swamp,” she told reporters. “I travel with the president all across the country — Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Florida, Nevada — and everywhere we go, the streets are lined with support like I don’t think any other president has had previously.”
Met with the slightest scrutiny, McEnany’s defense falls apart. Trump, who is expected to lose the popular vote for a second time in November, is not supported by a majority of Americans. Very rarely does he risk a public interaction that has not been set up by his White House or campaign staffers, because they often go so poorly. At the 2018 conference in Davos — sure, not exactly an egalitarian public forum — Trump was booed by a jury of his fellow economic elites. In 2019, it appears he tanked a Fourth of July fireworks display because he was afraid of the potential for a jeering crowd. Last fall was particularly rough: Less than a week after he was heckled at a Nationals World Series home game in D.C., Trump was met with a mixed reception of boos and cheers at an Ultimate Fighting Championship bout in New York — traditionally a crowd, and a C-suite, much more favorable to the president than in other sports.