In an interview with The Wall Street Journal published Thursday, the president claimed ignorance to the historical significance of June 19, telling the paper that it was ultimately a black Secret Service agent who filled him in on the date’s significance.
But the president told the Journal that for all the backlash, “I did something good: I made Juneteenth very famous.”
Trump suggested that news coverage of the rally brought much-needed attention to the date, even though all but two U.S. states officially mark the day, also known as Emancipation Day.
“It’s actually an important event, an important time,” Trump argued, “But nobody had ever heard of it.”
Despite Trump’s claim that the holiday was not well-known, his White House has released a statement — attributed to the president and first lady — commemorating Juneteenth for each of the three years he’s been in office, a fact that surprised Trump when, according to the Journal, he paused Thursday’s interview to ask an aide if she had heard of Juneteenth.
“Oh really? We put out a statement? The Trump White House put out a statement?” he responded. “OK, OK. Good.”
“And nobody ever heard of Finland either until I made it famous by saying it was part of Russia.”