Amid FBI Announcement, Trump Hits The Stump In Kentucky

Mar 21, 2017

While Washington dealt with the fallout from Monday's confirmation of an FBI investigation into pre-election ties between Russia and the Trump campaign, the president was in Louisville, Kentucky rallying his base at Freedom Hall.

The introduction wouldn't have sounded out of place at a wrestling match. "The President of the United States, Donald J. Trump..." the announcement boomed to roaring applause.

Attendees file past a colorful Trump float on their way into Freedom Hall.
Credit Josh James / WUKY

Flanked by signs reading "Promises Made" and "Promises Kept," Trump filled the nearly 20,000 seat arena Monday night, tossing out catch-phrases to chants of "U-S-A, U-S-A." Sounding much like candidate Trump, the president's speech wandered through familiar territory, only briefly touching on this Thursday's scheduled House vote on the GOP healthcare bill. Trump had conciliatory words for Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, a staunch critic of the measure.

"I look forward to working with him so we can get this bill passed in some form, so that we can pass massive tax reform - which we can't do until this happens," the president said.

On coal, Trump hinted at forthcoming action.

"As we speak, we are preparing new executive actions to save our coal industry and to save our wonderful coal miners from continuing to be put out of work," he promised.

Trump has already signed an order undoing an Obama-era regulation aimed at stopping mines from dumping waste into nearby waterways, a rule Republicans argue would overburden the industry.

Protesters line the entrance to the Louisville fairgrounds.
Credit Josh James / WUKY

Notably absent were any comments regarding the confirmation of an FBI investigation into Trump-Russia ties or the president's wiretapping claims against his predecessor.

Outside, a carnival-like atmosphere prevailed - with t-shirt giveaways and "Dancing in the Street" blaring from a large Trump float. Brian Ader, a businessman from southern Indiana who waited for hours to grab a choice seat, said Monday marked his eighth Trump rally.

"It's just a good feeling and a vibe and just to see... the movement he has created for the country. Because he's come across as a person for the people," he told WUKY.

Meanwhile, protesters camped out along the fence at the main entrance, prompting horn honks from backers and opponents alike. Chris Rowzee was with a coalition of Louisville activist groups ranging from Planned Parenthood to Black Lives Matter.

A demonstrator holds up an "Impeach" sign outside President Donald Trump's Louisville rally.
Credit Josh James / WUKY

"We feel like this administration is trying to drown out the voices of the majority of Americans," she said. "They don't want to hear from us, even though this president was not elected with the majority of Americans in the country."

The event is the second high profile Trump administration visit to Kentucky in as many weeks. Vice President Mike Pence visited Louisville to drum up support for the Republican healthcare bill earlier this month.