President Donald Trump’s Thursday visit to Northeast Iowa Community College in Peosta, Iowa, followed a familiar script. The president’s remarks were rambling and dishonest (on everything from the U.S. trade deficit with Canada to Terry Branstad’s gubernatorial career), and his preening self-praise was matched by blatant flattery from Republicans in attendance, including Gov. Kim Reynolds and Rep. Rod Blum. Even the “Make Our Farmers Great Again” hat Trump flourished (“Is it great?” he said), has been used as a prop before. But there was one unique moment.
When Trump called on Blum to speak, he referred to the congressman as “Matt” instead of Rod. “I’d like to maybe have Matt Blum speak next, because he’s been so incredible in so many ways,” Trump said. “He fights so hard, he loves his state, he loves his people.”
It was an odd slip-up. Trump had already called Blum “Rod” at least three times during the presentation before renaming him. It’s impossible to know what Trump was thinking in that moment, but it is worth noting he does know of at least one person named Matt Blum.
This other Blum was the reporter for Boing Boing, who unearthed an interesting story from the archives of the New York Times that apparently mentioned Trump’s father, Fred.
“According to a New York Times article published in June 1927, a man with the name and address of Donald Trump’s father was arraigned after Klan members attacked cops in Queens, N.Y,” Blum reported in Sept. 2015.
In an article subtitled “Klan assails policeman”, Fred Trump is named in among those taken in during a late May “battle” in which “1,000 Klansmen and 100 policemen staged a free-for-all.” At least two officers were hurt during the event, after which the Klan’s activities were denounced by the city’s Police Commissioner, Joseph A. Warren.
“The Klan not only wore gowns, but had hoods over their faces almost completely hiding their identity,” Warren was quoted as saying in the article, which goes on to identify seven men “arrested in the near-riot of the parade.”
Blum’s discovery caused a sensation at the time, and during an interview with the Times, Trump said he’d read it.
Q. Have you seen this story about police arresting a Fred Trump who lived at that Devonshire address in 1927 after a Ku Klux Klan rally turned violent?
A. Totally false. We lived on Wareham. The Devonshire — I know there is a road Devonshire but I don’t think my father ever lived on Devonshire.
Q. The Census shows that he lived there with your mother there. But regardless, you never heard about that story?
A. It never happened. And by the way, I saw that it was one little website that said it. It never happened. And they said there were no charges, no nothing. It’s unfair to mention it, to be honest, because there were no charges. They said there were charges against other people, but there were absolutely no charges, totally false.
Somebody showed me that website — it was a little website and somebody did that. By the way, did you notice that there were no charges? Well, if there are no charges that means it shouldn’t be mentioned.
Because my father, there were no charges against him, I don’t know about the other people involved. But there were zero charges against him. So assuming it was him — I don’t even think it was him, I never even heard about it. So it’s really not fair to mention. It never happened.
The story led to other reporting on a 1973 U.S. Department of Justice lawsuit the Trump Management Company, run by Trump and his father Fred, for refusing to rent to people who weren’t white.
The lawsuit was resolved in 1978, when Trump Management entered into a consent decree, in which the company admitted no wrongdoing but agreed to make changes to ensure it would not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin.