Donald Trump’s Rally in Phoenix Was an Unhinged Nightmare. Here Are the Lowlights.

Former National Intelligence Director James Clapper called the speech “downright scary and disturbing.”

President Donald Trump at a rally in Phoenix, Arizona.Alex Brandon/AP

9:48 p.m. PDT

That’s all for now, folks. Tomorrow, Trump heads to Reno, Nevada to speak at the American Legion Convention.

9:42 p.m. PDT

On CNN, former national intelligence director James Clapper called Trump’s speech “downright scary and disturbing.”

9:01 p.m. PDT

After Trump’s rally, the scene outside the Phoenix Convention Center quickly devolved, with police reportedly deploying tear gas on protesters.

8:42 p.m. PDT

Some reactions to Trump’s speech weren’t exactly glowing.

8:25 p.m. PDT

Trump promises to pass the “first major tax reform in over 30 years,” saying that if the Democrats in Congress don’t support his measures, they’ll be “stopping you from getting a massive tax cut.”

8:20 p.m. PDT

8:16 p.m. PDT

Pivoting back to Charlottesville, Trump warned against removing statues of non-Confederates like George Washington and Teddy Roosevelt. “They’re trying to take away our culture, they’re trying to take away our history,” he said.

8:10 p.m. PDT

The president touched on his “fire and fury” comments earlier this month regarding North Korea. “What i said, that’s not strong enough,” said Trump, adding, “I respect the fact that I believe [Kim Jong-un] is starting to respect us.”

8:02 p.m. PDT

Trump called for getting rid of the filibuster rule, saying “if we don’t the Republicans will never get anything passed,” and bemoaned the close Senate vote on the Republican health bill. “I will not mention any names,” he said, hinting at Arizona Sen. John McCain, who cast a crucial “no” vote on the legislation.

7:58 p.m. PDT

Trump touted his crackdown on sanctuary cities and pushed for a wall on the southern border. He vowed to build the wall even “if we have to close down our government.”

7:50 p.m. PDT

Trump all but guaranteed a pardon for former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was convicted last month of criminal contempt for defying a judge’s order to stop targeting immigrants for traffic stops. “Sheriff Joe can feel good,” he told the crowd.

7:43 p.m. PDT

7:40 p.m. PDT

“They’re trying to take away our history and our heritage,” Trump says, adding that “the only people giving a platform to these hate groups are the media and fake news.”

7:38 p.m. PDT

Trump says he think jobs can have a “tremendously positive impact on race relations,” pointing to the “over 1 million jobs” he’s created since entering office.

7:30 p.m. PDT

President Donald Trump is holding a “Make America Great Again” rally at 7 p.m. PT tonight in Phoenix, Arizona. Hundreds of people lined up outside the city’s convention center—some before dawn—to hear Trump speak at his first major political event since the deadly protests in Charlottesville, Va. on August 12.

The rally’s first speakers were Secretary of Housing and Urban Development—and the only black member of Trump’s cabinet—Ben Carson, as well as Alveda King, Martin Luther King, Jr.’s niece.

After taking the podium, Trump blamed the media for mischaracterizing the statements he made following the Charlottesville protests. “They don’t report the facts….Just like they don’t want to report that I spoke out strongly against…Neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and the KKK.” He then proceeded to read portions of the statements he made following the protests, notably omitting the times he noted the bigotry “on many sides” of the protests.

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton called on Trump yesterday to delay his rally. “America is hurting. And it is hurting largely because Trump has doused racial tensions with gasoline,” he wrote, pointing to Trump’s reaction to the violence in Charlottesville.

Many suspected that Trump would use the rally to pardon former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio—a pardon Trump said last week he was “seriously considering.” Arpaio, who campaigned for Trump in 2016, was convicted last month of criminal contempt for defying a judge’s order to stop targeting immigrants for traffic stops. Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders quelled that suspicion earlier today. “I can tell you that there will be no discussion of that today at any point, and no action will be taken on that front at any time today,” she said on Air Force One as Trump took off for the speech.

Nearly a dozen protests of the rally were planned by various immigrant rights, anti-fascist, and civil rights groups. The Associated Press reports that some protesters and Trump supporters have shoved and shouted at each other before the event.

At least one group of protesters has brought guns:

Some brought bikes:

And others brought signs:

While Trump brought protection:


In 2014, before Donald Trump announced his run for president, we knew we had to do something different to address the fundamental challenge facing journalism: how hard-hitting reporting that can hold the powerful accountable can survive as the bottom falls out of the news business.

Being a nonprofit, we started planning The Moment for Mother Jones: A special campaign to raise $25 million for key investments to make Mother Jones the strongest watchdog it can be. Five years later, readers have stepped up and contributed an astonishing $23 million in gifts and future pledges. This is an incredible statement from the Mother Jones community in the face of the huge threats—both economic and political—against the free press.

Read more about The Moment and see what we've been able to accomplish thanks to readers' incredible generosity so far, and please join them today. Your gift will be matched dollar for dollar, up to $500,000 total, during this critical moment for journalism.

We Recommend


Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.


Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.


We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.