Trump 'furious' about low Tulsa turnout, a 'heinous' NASCAR discovery, and Dems to probe SDNY drama

The rally "was a bad night for our effort," one senior Trump adviser said.
Image: President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at the BOK Center, Saturday, June 20, 2020, in Tulsa, Okla.
President Donald Trump speaks during the campaign rally in Tulsa, Okla., on Saturday with empty stands visible in the background. Evan Vucci / AP

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By Petra Cahill

Good morning, NBC News readers.

President Donald Trump is "furious" about low turnout at his Tulsa rally, a noose was found in Bubba Wallace’s NASCAR garage and Democrats want to hear from the ousted U.S. attorney in New York.

Here's what we're watching this Monday morning.


Trump 'furious' about 'underwhelming' crowd at Tulsa rally

President Trump's Saturday night rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, was supposed to be the big moment when he restarted his campaign.

Ahead of the rally, the Trump campaign said as many as a million tickets had been requested for the event in the 19,000 seat arena, causing them to set up overflow areas.

But things didn't go as planned.

Only 6,200 supporters ultimately occupied the general admission sections, the Tulsa fire marshal told NBC News.

The images of empty seats dominated the coverage of the event, leaving Trump "furious" about the "underwhelming" crowd.

In the hours after the event, advisers and Republican strategists admitted the night was a flop and a missed opportunity to shift the momentum in Trump’s direction just five months before the election, NBC News' White House reporter Shannon Pettypiece writes.

Still, they insisted there was plenty of time to recover from the images of a thinly filled arena, headlines about infected aides and a speech that failed to hit on the most pressing issues with voters.

"This was a bad night for our effort," said one senior adviser. "Hardly a deal-breaker, lots of time to go, many miles ahead. But everything was awful tonight: crowd size, lack of focus in the speech, way too many riff stories."

While it's unclear whether or not the online campaign by TikTok teens, young adults and K-pop stans (fans of Korean hip-hop and pop music) to disrupt the event was actually responsible for the low attendance — the young people who participated in it took a victory lap on Sunday nonetheless.

Trump Campaign Manager Brad Parscale dismissed the notion that the bogus reservation campaign impacted the rally's attendance. Instead he blamed the coronavirus, ongoing Black Lives Matter protests and the media for the low turnout.

Regardless of whose to blame for the sparse crowds, Trump's deflating Tulsa turnout reveals a deeper problem for him, NBC News Jonathan Allen writes in a news analysis.


Noose found in Bubba Wallace’s garage stall after NASCAR bans Confederate flag

A noose was found in the garage stall of Black stock car racer Bubba Wallace, NASCAR said Sunday, as it vowed to find out who is responsible.

The discovery was made before a race that was postponed because of weather at the historic Talladega Superspeedway, about 50 miles east of Birmingham, Alabama, officials said.

"We are angry and outraged, and cannot state strongly enough how seriously we take this heinous act," the organization said in a statement.

Earlier this month, NASCAR, a bedrock of Southern culture, banned the Confederate flag from all of its events.

"As we have stated unequivocally, there is no place for racism in NASCAR, and this act only strengthens our resolve to make the sport open and welcoming to all," NASCAR said.

Bubba Wallace wore an "I Can't Breathe - Black Lives Matter" T-shirt in solidarity with protesters at a NASCAR event on June 7. Chris Graythen / Getty Images

WHO reports largest single-day increase in global coronavirus cases

The World Health Organization on Sunday reported the largest single-day increase in coronavirus cases by its count, at more than 183,000 new cases in the latest 24 hours.

The UN health agency said Brazil led the way with 54,771 cases tallied — with the U.S. in the number two spot with 36,617 new cases.

Experts said rising case counts can reflect multiple factors including more widespread testing as well as broader infection.

Trump told a mostly unmasked crowd of supporters at the rally in Tulsa on Saturday, that he wanted to slow down testing for the coronavirus.

"When you do testing to that extent, you’re going to find more people, you’re going to find more cases," Trump said. "So I said to my people, 'Slow the testing down, please.'"

But the White House insisted he was just joking.

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Democrats push for ousted U.S. attorney's testimony

Democrats expressed hope Sunday that Geoffrey Berman, the ousted U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, would testify soon before the House.

The comments came after a dizzying weekend in which Attorney General William Barr initially announced Friday that Berman had resigned, to which Berman said he hadn't.

Barr then said Saturday that, at his request, Trump had fired Berman. When asked about Berman's firing Saturday, Trump told reporters that he wasn't involved in the situation.

Soon afterward, Berman announced that he was immediately departing as U.S. attorney in Manhattan, leaving control of the office in the hands of his deputy, Audrey Strauss.

It's unclear why Berman was removed. His office has been involved in a number of high-profile investigations involving people connected to the president, including an investigation of Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani's business activities and the prosecution of two Florida businessmen, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, former associates of Giuliani's who were tied to the Ukraine impeachment investigation.

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As if a global pandemic wasn’t enough, a giant plague of locusts is threatening Africa and Asia

When the skies darkened suddenly over Michael Gatiba's 10-acre farm in Nakuru County, Kenya, what came pouring down stunned him: millions of desert locusts.

"It was like a storm," Gatiba, 45, said by telephone. "It was like hail. They covered everywhere. Even there was no sun."

That was three months ago. Although Gatiba said he was lucky that the damage from the insects was minimal, he fears that the outbreak that has plagued swaths of Africa, the Middle East and Asia for the past two years will return to ravage his maize and bean crops.

As the pests begin to migrate again in the second half of June, experts warn that, without continuous aid to mitigate the spread, the devastation could leave millions of people in at least 23 countries hungry by the end of the year.

A desert locust swarm flies in Kipsing, Kenya in March 2020.Sven Torfinn

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But in the age of COVID-19, most of our seasonal cultural rituals are on hold. But that's not to say pandemic-weary pop culture junkies don't have promising options.

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Thanks for reading the Morning Rundown. Hope you had a good weekend.

If you have any comments — likes, dislikes — drop me an email at petra@nbcuni.com

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Thanks, Petra