When asked if he recommended people wear them at the event, he replied: “I recommend people do what they want. We’re going to have a wild evening tomorrow night at Oklahoma.”
On Friday, Trump tweeted to protesters and “lowlifes” ahead of his Saturday rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, promising “a much different scene” to other hotspots of protest like New York, Seattle or Minneapolis.
“Any protesters, anarchists, agitators, looters or lowlifes who are going to Oklahoma please understand, you will not be treated like you have been in New York, Seattle, or Minneapolis. It will be a much different scene!” he wrote.
Speaking to Axios, Trump defended the tweet. He said: “That’s got to be the least controversial of my tweets.”
Trump’s tweet came on Juneteenth, a day that commemorates the freeing of Black slaves in the US.
Trump’s rally — his first within the coronavirus pandemic — had originally been planned for Juneteenth but was moved back one day after widespread criticism.
Tulsa’s mayor, GT Bynum, imposed a curfew around the venue on Thursday, citing recent “civil unrest.” The city’s curfew was lifted on Friday afternoon.
The mayor said in a statement on Friday: “Last night, I enacted a curfew at the request of Tulsa Police Chief Wendell Franklin, following consultation with the United States Secret Service based on intelligence they had received. Today, we were told the curfew is no longer necessary so I am rescinding it.”
“Enjoy yourselves – thank you to Mayor Bynum!” Trump wrote on Twitter, adding the mayor informed him of the change in plans.
A high metal fence has since been erected to barricade the Trump rally venue.
The Oklahoma Supreme Court denied this request on Friday.
The president’s comments contradict recommendations made by White House top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci, who said people should wear masks at large gatherings and try to social distance as much as possible.
When asked by Axios whether he was aware of Fauci’s warnings, the president responded: “Fauci? I’m OK with that. If people want to wear masks I think that’s great. I won’t be. Not as a protest but I don’t feel that I’m in danger.”
The queue for the rally at the Bank of Oklahoma Center began forming earlier this week, with several Trump supporters choosing to camp outside.
According to the Trump campaign, they received over 1 million ticket requests although the venue only seats 19,000 people.
In response to the safety concerns, the Trump campaign said that they will do temperature checks and offer hand sanitizers and free masks.
However, people buying online tickets for the rally had to sign a waiver confirming they “voluntarily assume all risks related to exposure to COVID-19” and will not hold the campaign responsible for “any illness and injury,” according to the BBC.