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Trump decries FBI probe of Biden bus incident

by Compiled by Democrat-Gazette Staff From Wire Reports | November 3, 2020 at 4:00 a.m.
President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at Richard B. Russell Airport, Sunday, Nov. 1, 2020, in Rome, Ga. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

WASHINGTON -- President Donald Trump on Sunday suggested the FBI should stop investigating an incident in which his supporters were seen surrounding a Biden campaign bus in Texas, which led Democrats to cancel an event there.

The president's tweet came hours after the FBI confirmed that it was "aware of the incident and investigating."

On Sunday night, Trump retweeted a screenshot of the FBI statement, adding: "In my opinion, these patriots did nothing wrong. Instead, the FBI & Justice should be investigating the terrorists, anarchists, and agitators of ANTIFA, who run around burning down our Democrat run cities and hurting our people!"

An FBI spokesperson said the bureau had no comment about the president's tweet.

In videos posted on Twitter, a group of cars and pickups -- many adorned with large Trump flags -- can be seen riding alongside the campaign bus Friday, and at times boxing it in, as it traveled from San Antonio to Austin. At one point, one of the trucks can be seen colliding with an SUV that was driving behind the bus.

Neither former Vice President Joe Biden nor his running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris, was aboard the bus. The campaign canceled an event later in the day.

The FBI said Saturday that it is investigating the incident, the Texas Tribune reported. On Sunday, the Texas Department of Public Safety told the Austin American-Statesman that it had also opened an investigation.

On Saturday, Trump tweeted a video of his supporters following the Biden campaign bus, adding, "I LOVE TEXAS!"

At a Trump rally in South Florida on Sunday night, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., also praised the group.

"I saw yesterday a video of these people in Texas," Rubio said to a large crowd at Opa-locka Executive Airport, where many attendees declined to wear masks. "Did you see it? All the cars on the road, we love what they did."

Democrats in the state and the Biden campaign denounced the incident over the weekend.

"Rather than engage in productive conversation about the drastically different visions that Joe Biden and Donald Trump have for our country, Trump supporters in Texas today instead decided to put our staff, surrogates, supporters, and others in harm's way," Tariq Thowfeek, Texas communications director for the Biden campaign, told CNN.

The Texas Democratic Party chairperson did not directly address the incident but said people should "ignore the noise and go vote."

"Voting is the only thing that matters right now," the chair, Gilberto Hinojosa, said in a statement.

But Texas GOP Chairman Allen West pushed back, telling the Texas Tribune on Saturday that allegations that the caravan had harassed Biden campaign volunteers was "fake news and propaganda."

This weekend, caravans of Trump supporters also blocked the Mario Cuomo Bridge in New York, which spans the Hudson River between Tarrytown and Nyack, and snarled traffic on the Garden State Parkway in New Jersey. Videos posted online showed some of the supporters hopping out of their cars on the bridge as rain fell on the roadway, waving Trump flags and cheering.

"We've never had anything like this. At least we've never had a president who thinks it's a good thing," Biden said during a campaign event in the Philadelphia suburbs.

Information for this article was contributed by Michael Balsamo, Jake Bleiberg and Alexandra Jaffe of The Associated Press; and by Katie Shepherd of The Washington Post.

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