U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday chastised Bubba Wallace, NASCAR’s only Black driver in its top series, in a tweet over an incident involving a noose found in Wallace’s garage last month, calling it a “hoax” - and lamented NASCAR's decision to ban Confederate symbols at its events.
Trump wrote: "Has @BubbaWallace apologized to all of those great NASCAR drivers & officials who came to his aid, stood by his side, & were willing to sacrifice everything for him, only to find out that the whole thing was just another HOAX? That & Flag decision has caused lowest ratings EVER!"
Wallace, a vocal supporter of Black Lives Matter, had long pushed for banning the Confederate flag.
NASCAR has said its investigation did not determine who put the noose in Wallace's stall or how it got there and said that the noose was a garage door pull down.
U.S. investigators separately concluded that no federal crime was committed.
The noose was found by one of Wallace’s crew members – not the driver himself - and White House spokesperson Kayleigh McEnany struggled on Monday to explain to repeated questions from reporters on why Wallace should apologize.
“I’m not going to answer a question a sixth time.”
Wallace drew an outpouring of support amid the incident from fellow drivers, who afterward pushed him and his car to the start of a June 22nd race at the Talladega Superspeedway.
Trump has made racial division a central theme of his re-election campaign, railing in July 4th weekend speeches against those who’ve pulled down Confederate statues and protested against other historic symbols.
“We will never allow an angry mob to tear down our states and erase our history, indoctrinate our children or trample on our freedoms.”
Later on Monday, Wallace posted a tweet addressed to “the next generation and little ones following my foot steps…” writing, “…always deal with the hate being thrown at you with love…. Even when it’s hate from the POTUS. Love wins."