As the sound of nearby honking trucks disrupted Donald Trump’s press briefing Friday in the White House Rose Garden, he claimed they were “protesting in favor of President Trump.”
No, they weren’t.
Drivers in trucks lined up on Constitution Avenue were blasting their air horns to protest plunging shipping rates amid the COVID-19 crisis. They’re demanding aid from the federal government to keep working and continue moving goods.
The truckers’ honking could clearly be heard as Trump was boasting about U.S. military strength (later, in the Oval Office, he touted a new “super-duper missile”).
“You hear that outside, that beautiful sound? Those are truckers who are with us all the way,” Trump suddenly added. (Check out the video above.)
“They are protesting in favor of President Trump, as opposed to against us,” Trump added. “That’s the sign of love. Not the sign of your difficult protests. Our great truckers …. They like me, and I like them.”
Truck drivers have been protesting plunging shipping rates since mid-April in demonstrations in a number of cities. Freight brokers are lowering shipping rates even as drivers’ risk increases during the pandemic. Some rates are at a 10-year low, reports Business Insider. One trucker told the news outlet that a run from North Carolina to Los Angeles now pays him $2,700, down from $4,700 just two months ago.
The $2.2 trillion coronavirus economic stimulus package that Trump signed into law in March did not include targeted support for the trucking industry. And several truck operators have complained about the difficulty getting loans from the Paycheck Protection Program run by the Small Business Administration.
“The American truck driver needs help, and we need it now,” a New Jersey trucker complained to The Washington Post during a demonstration in the capital early this month.
Trump made similar claims about how much truckers love him on Thursday when truckers’ air horns could be heard during an interview outside the White House with Fox Business Network’s Maria Bartiromo.
When Bartiromo referred to the truckers as protesters, Trump replied: “Well, they’re not protesters. They’re supporters of me because we are getting things for the truckers … they are really thankful that I’m president, frankly.”
He also insisted: “They love their president.”