Trump, showing no evidence, calls Andrew Gillum a 'thief'

President Donald Trump launched what opponents decried as a racially loaded attack Monday on Florida Democra...

Posted: Oct 30, 2018 6:04 PM
Updated: Oct 30, 2018 6:04 PM

President Donald Trump launched what opponents decried as a racially loaded attack Monday on Florida Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum, labeling him a "thief" without evidence and claiming that, as mayor of Tallahassee, Gillum oversees one of the country's "most corrupt cities."

The President's tweet comes just eight days before the election to decide who will lead the state: Gillum or his Republican rival, former Rep. Ron DeSantis. Early voting is already underway and Gillum, who is vying to become the state's first African-American governor, led by double digits in a recent CNN poll.

Donald Trump

Political Figures - US

Andrew Gillum

Arts and entertainment

Broadway shows

Continents and regions

Crime, law enforcement and corrections

Criminal offenses

Federal Bureau of Investigation

Florida

Government and public administration

Government bodies and offices

Government organizations - US

Larceny and theft

North America

Plays and musical theater

Property crimes

Ron DeSantis

Southeastern United States

Tallahassee

The Americas

United States

US Department of Justice

US federal departments and agencies

US federal government

Discrimination

Elections and campaigns

Politics

Racism and racial discrimination

Societal issues

Society

Voters and voting

White House

Investigations

Gillum responded less than an hour after Trump's attack and, like the last time they clashed, mocked the President for not engaging him more directly.

"On Twitter there is a choice between having the courage to @ the person you are trash talking, or not," Gillum wrote. "@realDonaldTrump is howling because he's weak. Florida, go vote today."

His opponent, DeSantis, has keyed in on Gillum's 2016 decision to accept a ticket to see the Broadway show "Hamilton" from a group that included an undercover FBI agent, according to text and email records released under subpoena last week, as evidence that an ongoing federal corruption probe in Tallahassee is closer to the mayor than has been reported. DeSantis has also questioned whether a trip Gillum took that year to Costa Rica with his wife, along with lobbyist and longtime friend Adam Corey and his associates, was appropriate. Gillum has said he paid his own way.

No one connected to Gillum or the investigation has been charged with a crime, and Gillum has repeatedly said the FBI has told him he is not a focus of the probe. There has been no suggestion of outright thievery, as suggested by Trump, even by Gillum's political opponents. The probe centers on whether developers successfully influenced city projects, although at one point an undercover agent infiltrated Gillum's inner circle and attended the trip to New York with Corey, Gillum and Gillum's brother.

Despite Gillum's assertions that he is not a target of the federal probe, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders claimed Gillum was under investigation by the FBI when asked at a news conference on Monday what the President meant when he used the word "thief" to describe the candidate.

"That individual's under FBI investigation. I would refer you to that," Sanders said. "I'm not going to get into specifics on that matter because it involves two candidates running for office and I'm not going to impact that due to the Hatch Act. I'll leave that to the President to make those kinds of statements."

Gillum's campaign dismissed Sanders' assertions as "desperate falsehoods" in a statement Monday.

"These desperate falsehoods make it clear the Trump Administration is more concerned with saving the failed gubernatorial campaign of its loyal lapdog Ron DeSantis, than it is with the truth," the statement said. "It's simply wrong to say Mayor Gillum is under FBI investigation—he's not under FBI investigation and the FBI has confirmed it. Conspiracy theories aren't true just because President Trump and Ron DeSantis pretend they are."

The President's comment earlier Monday sparked an instant backlash from an array of Democrats, including the group led by billionaire donor Tom Steyer, one of Gillum's top supporters, which described the language as "another racist dog-whistle meant to stir up his base because he knows DeSantis is behind."

DeSantis began the general election campaign by warning voters not to "monkey this up" by electing Gillum, a remark he subsequently denied had any racial component. DeSantis has also faced questions over his role as an administrator on a racist Facebook page, which a spokesman for him said the former lawmaker had been added to unwittingly and had since left.

Questioned last week at their second debate over his decision to speak at conferences hosted by David Horowitz, an anti-Muslim conservative political activist, DeSantis angrily rejected any suggestion he shared those views.

The exchange teed up Gillum, who shot back, "My grandmother used to say, 'A hit dog will holler,' and it hollered through this room," adding that while he wasn't calling DeSantis a racist, "I'm simply saying the racists believe he's a racist."

The records relating to Gillum's theater excursion in New York, which were subpoenaed by the state ethics commissions two weeks ago, according to the Tampa Bay Times, cast doubt on the explanation from Gillum's campaign that the mayor received the ticket from his brother, Marcus. At a debate last week, Gillum took responsibility for not asking "more questions" about the situation at the time.

"I was aware that Adam Corey and (an agent known as) Mike Miller arranged so that we could go and see the show. I arrived at the theater and received my ticket from my brother," Gillum said. "The problem that I have is that I should have asked more questions to make sure that everything that had transpired was aboveboard."

Gillum had also addressed the controversy earlier last week at a CNN debate with DeSantis.

"Did you pay for the 'Hamilton' ticket, or did the undercover FBI agent pay for the 'Hamilton' ticket?" DeSantis had asked.

Gillum never directly answered, but said he had -- in general terms -- always paid his own way during his political career.

"We all have friends that sometimes let us down," Gillum said of Corey, while also suggesting DeSantis was using the issue as a not-so-subtle way of trying to provoke a racial backlash in a campaign that could end with the election of Florida's first African-American governor.

"I'm a hardworking person," Gillum said. "I know that may not fit your description of what you think people like me do."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 159036

Reported Deaths: 3879
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto10563104
Hinds10414204
Harrison7397113
Jackson6655128
Rankin6057107
Lee540396
Madison5120107
Forrest394786
Jones376188
Lauderdale3663147
Lafayette341053
Washington3321108
Lamar301950
Oktibbeha255262
Lowndes252867
Bolivar248084
Panola237353
Neshoba2280122
Marshall225051
Leflore211191
Monroe209778
Pontotoc208131
Lincoln200566
Sunflower194155
Warren183058
Tate180451
Union172926
Copiah170840
Pike166760
Scott161330
Yazoo161340
Itawamba159936
Alcorn159328
Pearl River158969
Coahoma155943
Prentiss154931
Simpson154053
Adams147252
Grenada145445
Leake141844
Holmes134461
Covington130040
Tippah130030
George129525
Winston128726
Hancock127641
Wayne123024
Attala122834
Marion121447
Tishomingo114043
Chickasaw110732
Newton110529
Tallahatchie99427
Clay96127
Clarke94853
Jasper87023
Stone82015
Calhoun79513
Walthall79330
Montgomery78426
Carroll75515
Lawrence74614
Smith74216
Yalobusha74228
Noxubee73317
Perry68726
Tunica63019
Greene62422
Jefferson Davis59617
Claiborne59216
Amite57615
Humphreys55219
Quitman5107
Benton50418
Kemper48018
Webster47714
Wilkinson40722
Jefferson38312
Choctaw3637
Franklin3635
Sharkey32917
Issaquena1214
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 256828

Reported Deaths: 3711
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson34214511
Mobile20299366
Madison13925150
Tuscaloosa13591156
Montgomery12659238
Shelby1095877
Baldwin9163137
Lee792566
Morgan710851
Etowah677467
Calhoun6695121
Marshall665757
Houston548239
DeKalb504738
Cullman472043
St. Clair451857
Limestone447546
Lauderdale436054
Elmore427564
Walker3818111
Talladega374457
Jackson350723
Colbert336443
Blount310043
Autauga287342
Franklin259734
Coffee254115
Dale242054
Dallas232932
Chilton230841
Russell22813
Covington227934
Escambia206131
Tallapoosa189191
Chambers185950
Pike162214
Clarke161819
Marion146136
Winston141924
Lawrence135336
Pickens127720
Geneva12638
Marengo125224
Bibb123938
Barbour120629
Butler118842
Randolph105922
Cherokee105524
Hale99732
Fayette96316
Clay93525
Washington93319
Henry8946
Monroe83811
Lowndes82129
Cleburne79914
Macon76522
Crenshaw72930
Conecuh72414
Lamar7138
Bullock70919
Perry6927
Wilcox64918
Sumter58922
Greene44218
Choctaw43519
Coosa3724
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Overcast
45° wxIcon
Hi: 50° Lo: 42°
Feels Like: 45°
Columbus
Overcast
46° wxIcon
Hi: 55° Lo: 43°
Feels Like: 46°
Oxford
Overcast
41° wxIcon
Hi: 43° Lo: 36°
Feels Like: 41°
Starkville
Overcast
43° wxIcon
Hi: 53° Lo: 39°
Feels Like: 39°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather