Donald Trump has denied a New York Times report suggesting that he inquired about updating Mount Rushmore to include his own face, but noted, perhaps jokingly, that he was open to the proposal.
The US president ascended his infamous Twitter pulpit to lash out at the paper, as well as CNN, which ran a similarly salacious story based on the Times’ reporting.
“This is Fake News by the failing @nytimes & bad ratings @CNN. Never suggested it although, based on all of the many things accomplished during the first 3 1/2 years, perhaps more than any other Presidency, sounds like a good idea to me!” he wrote.
Citing a “Republican official familiar with the conversation,” the NYT claimed that a White House aide had contacted the South Dakota governor’s office last year to ask about adding “additional presidents” to the state’s famous sculpture, which features images of Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt.
The anonymously-sourced scoop feeds a long-standing rumor that Trump has wanted to give Mount Rushmore a facelift since taking office. According to South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem, Trump told her in a 2018 meeting that it was his “dream” to have his likeness be etched into the iconic mountain. Noem said that she thought the president was joking at first, but that his facial expression suggested he was “totally serious.”
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Trump has brought the issue up publicly, although he’s always insisted that he is floating the idea in jest.
“I’d ask whether or not you think I will someday be on Mount Rushmore, but here’s the problem: If I did it joking, totally joking, having fun, the fake news media will say ‘he believes he should be on Mount Rushmore,’” he said during a political rally in 2017.
Last year he noted that it would be “such bad publicity” if he expressed a genuine desire to be on Mount Rushmore.
The famous monument briefly became a political and cultural battleground after Trump attended a Fourth of July celebration there this year. Many news outlets that had previously praised the sculpture began running stories reporting that it represented slavery and oppression.
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