After the Trump campaign threatened to sue a Minneapolis arena for passing along a half-million-dollar security bill from the city to cover costs of the president's political rally there later this week, the venue withdrew the request, according to Trump's campaign manager.
Minneapolis officials told the Target Center, where President Donald Trump is slated to appear Thursday night, that it would be responsible for the $530,000 the city says it will need to beef up security for the visit. The Target Center planned to pass that bill along to the Trump campaign and said the campaign would have to pay if it wanted to use the arena.
But after a day of angry tweets from the president, mostly directly at the Democratic Minneapolis mayor, the Trump campaign announced Tuesday evening that the arena will not be canceling the contract and that the campaign will not be paying any additional fees.
"The arena in Minneapolis has been fully approved," campaign manager Brad Parscale wrote in an email to supporters. "The Target Center has backed off cancelling the contract, which means President Trump's Keep America Great rally will go on as scheduled. Consistent with our original agreement with the venue, the Trump campaign has not agreed to pay any additional funds."
It was not immediately clear whether the Target Center or the city will absorb the costs.
The battle over the security fees infuriated the Trump team, which accused Mayor Jacob Frey of trying to block Trump's visit.
Trump criticized Frey in a series of tweets Tuesday, calling him a "lightweight." Parscale accused Frey of "abusing his power."
Frey, reached by phone Tuesday night, said that his effort to recoup public safety costs is not political and that he wants the city to be reimbursed.
"What I'm doing is watching out for our taxpayers, something our president should be doing, too," Frey said. "It's not extortion to ask someone to pay their bills, even when that person really hates paying their bills."
The Trump campaign's legal team sent the Target Center's parent company, AEG Management, a letter Monday, declaring that refusing to allow Trump to hold his event there would be a breach of contract. The letter said the Trump campaign "will aggressively pursue all remedies available to it in law or equity."
In a statement accompanying the public release of the letter, Parscale accused Frey of extortion by "conjuring a phony and outlandish bill for security in an effort to block a scheduled Keep America Great rally."
"The radical Mayor of Minneapolis, @Jacob_Frey, is abusing his power in an attempt to block the President's supporters from seeing him speak on Thursday," Parscale tweeted Tuesday morning with a map of Minnesota showing the counties Trump won in 2016. "We refuse to be bullied by a left-winger resister & won't let him stifle the speech of @realDonaldTrump or his supporters!"
Trump retweeted his campaign manager and wrote: "The lightweight mayor is hurting the great police and other wonderful supporters. 72,000 ticket requests already. Dump Frey and Omar! Make America Great Again!" Trump's rally is to be held in the congressional district of Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar.
Frey, who has been an outspoken critic of Trump, responded to the president's tweet shortly thereafter.
"Yawn ... Welcome to Minneapolis where we pay our bills, we govern with integrity, and we love all of our neighbors," Frey tweeted.
After Trump announced his intent to visit the city, Frey said in a statement that while there was "no legal mechanism to prevent the president from visiting, his message of hatred will never be welcome in Minneapolis."
A spokesman for the city, Casper Hill, said in an email that the public safety cost of Trump's visit is estimated to be around $400,000 and that another $130,000 will probably be needed for lane closures, traffic control and other such disruptions.
"For context, the city's public safety and other essential services costs during the Super Bowl in 2018 was roughly $6 million and $1.5 million for the Final Four earlier this year," Hill said. "The city has used the same methodology to determine public safety, traffic control and other costs for the political rally at Target Center."
Trump's campaign committee has not paid at least 10 cities for the public safety costs of hosting the president, according to the Center for Public Integrity.
Trump visited in Duluth in 2018, holding a June campaign rally before the midterm elections in front of more than 8,000 people at Amsoil Arena.
The city was not reimbursed for about $69,000 in security costs incurred during the event, said Kate Van Daele, Duluth’s public information officer. Duluth didn’t send the Trump campaign an invoice, she said, after being told that neither the federal government nor an individual campaign would entertain such a reimbursement — regardless of party or candidate.
A campaign visit from Vice President Mike Pence in 2018 cost Duluth about $31,000 in extra security, Van Daele said. A visit from Sen. Bernie Sanders that year only cost the city $144 because Sanders’ stop was very short and there were fewer security needs.
Van Daele said the extra security needed can be a strain when the costs aren’t built into the city’s budget in advance. The combined $100,000 for Trump’s and Pence’s 2018 visits came out of the city’s general fund, she said.
“As a municipality that relies on Local Government Aid every year, and with that amount not going up, $100,000 amounts to a lot,” she said. “It’s a heavy lift for us to take.”
However, Van Daele said the city is happy to host elected officials and campaign events and that public safety was of utmost importance.
“We're great at doing this because we have had so many large events come through Duluth,” she said. “We’re really experienced in providing that kind of care. It just that when budgets are tight and we're needing to figure out, ‘Where did this money go?’ and, ‘Where were we short?’ … that’s (when) this comes up.”
Nearly three hours after Trump first tweeted on the subject, he went after the Minneapolis mayor again. He typed out another tweet attacking the mayor several hours after that.
The president is also irked by a rule change banning law enforcement officers from wearing their uniforms to political events. Instead, Trump-supporting police officers are planning to wear bright red shirts that say: "Cops for Trump."
"Someone please tell the Radical Left Mayor of Minneapolis that he can't price out Free Speech. Probably illegal!" Trump tweeted. "I stand strongly & proudly with the great Police Officers and Law Enforcement of Minneapolis and the Great State of Minnesota! See you Thursday Night!"
"It's certainly an interesting way to wake up in the morning," Frey said, of being on the receiving end of Trump's tweets. "It's just surprising that the president of the United States takes so much time to spout that kind of garbage online. It's not what I spend my time doing."
News Tribune reporter Adelie Bergstrom contributed to this report.