President Trump continued to stir controversy about the Confederate battle flag Tuesday during an interview with CBS News' Catherine Herridge.
Herridge asked Trump if he still believes, as he said in 2015, that the flag should be removed from public spaces and placed in museums. The president didn't explicitly answer the question, but he said the only thing he really cares about his "freedom of speech," implying that he thinks people should be allowed to leave it up.
When Herridge reminded him the flag is a "painful reminder" for many people because the Confederacy rebelled against the United States to preserve slavery, Trump said he knows people who "like the Confederate flag" but are not "thinking about slavery" before once again turning the conversation back to the First Amendment. Tim O'Donnell
CBS: "You understand why the [Confederate] flag is a painful symbol for many people because it's a reminder of slavery?"
Trump: "Well, people love it, and I don't view-- I know people that like the Confederate flag and they're not thinking about slavery. I look at NASCAR." pic.twitter.com/zKkmJDQaRX
Police in Tupelo, Mississippi, are charging Marshall W. Leonard, 61, with throwing a bomb at a local Walmart store early Sunday morning, allegedly to protest the chain's decision to stop selling the Mississippi flag and any other merchandise that contains the Confederate battle flag. If convicted, he faces a sentence of up to life in prison.
A while male believed to be Leonard, a vocal supporter of the Mississippi flag, drove up to the night entrance of the Walmart at 1:30 a.m., "got out, lit the package, and threw it in the vestibule," Tupelo Police Chief Bart Aguirre told the Tupelo Daily Journal. "There was an employee on break, and the suspect told him, 'You better run.' The employee did run and was away from harm when the package went off. It wasn't a large explosion. It didn't cause a lot of damage to the store." Nobody was hurt.
On Facebook last week, Leonard gave a "final warning" to the Daily Journal, the newspaper said Monday. "You are part of the problem," Leonard apparently wrote on Oct. 28. "As a result of this, y'all are going down, along with Walmart, WTVA, Reeds department store, and all the rest of the anti-American crooks. I'm not kidding. No messing around anymore!" It was the Mississippi flag that was Leonard's undoing, Chief Aguirre said. A cop saw the suspect's car — with a giant Mississippi flag sticking up through the sun roof — run a red light in front of the Walmart. "The officer pulled him over for the traffic violation," Aguirre said, "but when the calls started coming in, we quickly figured out we needed to hang on to this suspect." He is scheduled to appear before a judge on Tuesday. Peter Weber