BY: RACHEL SCOTT AND WILL STEAKIN, ABC NEWS
(WASHINGTON) — Some guests for Saturday’s White House event on the South Lawn, which will be President Donald Trump’s first since testing positive for the coronavirus, had their travel and lodging paid for by controversial conservative activist Candace Owens’ group BLEXIT, according to emails obtained by ABC News.
Supporters, who are also scheduled to attend a separate BLEXIT event earlier in the day, were invited to attend a “HUGE outdoor rally” by the group and asked to fill out a form that notified them that BLEXIT, a campaign urging Black Americans to leave the Democratic Party, will be covering travel costs.
Guests were later informed they would be receiving an invitation from the White House to attend an event with Trump.
In an email from Owens, obtained by ABC News, attendees were told “EVERYONE MUST BRING A MASK TO BE ALLOWED ENTRY ONTO THE WHITE HOUSE GROUNDS.” and that “absolutely no exceptions” will be made.
Still, wearing a face mask will not be required. Attendees will have to submit to a COVID-19 screening the morning of the event, which will consist of a temperature check and a brief questionnaire.
Guests will first attend a “BLEXIT Back the Blue event” on the Ellipse between the White House and the Washington Monument before heading over to the South Lawn for the president’s remarks, according to a schedule obtained by ABC News.
When reached for comment, Owens told ABC News, “We are not interested in participating in your obvious media angle here to slander/attack the President regarding Covid-19.” She added that Saturday’s event “is about supporting law enforcement in minority communities.” It is not immediately clear how many of those set to attend the event had their travel costs covered.
White House spokesman Judd Deere told ABC News the White House “is not involved in covering any cost.”
Following Trump’s remarks, the BLEXIT group is also planning a demonstration at Black Lives Matter Plaza showing “support for law enforcement,” according to the schedule.
The White House plans to host an event on Saturday featuring Trump with hundreds of supporters and guests from Owens’ group on the South Lawn discussing “law and order,” ABC News previously reported.
“All attendees must bring a mask with them and will be instructed to wear it on the White House Complex. All attendees must submit to a COVID-19 screening tomorrow morning. This will consist of a temperature check and a brief questionnaire. The health and safety of all attendees is our priority and following CDC guidelines is strongly encouraged,” a source with knowledge of the group’s planning told ABC News.
Trump will deliver “remarks to peaceful protesters for law and order,” according to an invite obtained by ABC News and confirmed by two White House sources familiar with the planning. The move underscores an effort to deliver the president a packed crowd of supporters for the event as he struggles with support among Black voters. Joe Biden led Trump, 88% to 9%, among Black registered voters, according to a Sept. 26 ABC/Washington Post poll.
Owens, who founded BLEXIT in 2018, told ABC News it is an organization “with the purpose of educating minorities about conservative principles (free markets, entrepreneurship, capitalism, etc) — concepts and theories that can truly transform and uplift our communities.”
“We stand in unapologetic, stark contrast to leftist ideologies that have destroyed our communities for decades,” Owens said.
In an Instagram post last week, Owens promoted what she called an upcoming “anti-Black Lives Matter event,” and urged followers to submit to attend in person. “We are giving away a limited amount of travel stipends to those that really them,” she said in the post.
“Our president doesn’t want us to be fearful or scared,” one person planning to attend Saturday’s events told ABC News. “Look how he came out of it. He popped right back. We have got to stop being afraid of this.”
“We got to take this mask off, we have to unmask America,” the person added.
Attendees for Saturday’s event were also told, “EVERYONE MUST WEAR A BLEXIT T-SHIRT (Which will be given to you ahead of the event) — no exceptions.”
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