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Trump Campaign Aide Brad Parscale Detained After Threat to Harm Himself

Bloomberg logo Bloomberg 9/28/2020 Jennifer Jacobs and Justin Sink
a man wearing a suit and tie: Brad Parscale © Bloomberg Brad Parscale

(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Brad Parscale was detained by police in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on Sunday after barricading himself in his home and threatening to harm himself, according to a police statement.

Police reports released Monday described a chaotic scene when officers arrived at Parscale’s home about 4 p.m. local time after receiving a 911 call about an armed man who was threatening suicide.

Candice Parscale told officers who responded that after an argument, her husband had brandished a gun in front of her. She fled the house and heard “a loud bang,” she told police.

Police said they were able to make contact by phone with Parscale, 44, but he refused to exit the residence and appeared to be intoxicated and crying. Officers also observed scratching and bruising on Candice Parscale’s face and arms, which she said were the result of prior spousal abuse.

SWAT personnel and other officers arrived on the scene, and Parscale was observed shirtless and yelling in what police described as an agitated tone. Eventually, officers convinced Parscale -- who was carrying a beer -- to walk outside, but say they were forced to tackle and handcuff him when he repeatedly ignored their direction to get on the ground.

Excerpts of bodycam footage the police later released show officers first talking with Candice Parscale and then with Brad Parscale, who sits outside a house, shirtless. Brad Parscale walks toward police holding a canned beverage, which he sets on a truck in the driveway.

In the footage, Parscale approaches an officer and starts to explain the dispute before other officers demand that he lay on the ground. When he doesn’t immediately comply, one officer then rushes Parscale, tackles him onto the street and handcuffs him. Other officers, including some with rifles, surround Parscale, who repeatedly insists “I didn’t do anything” before complying with their requests to stand up.

Parscale was taken into custody under the Baker Act, a Florida law that allows police to detain people who are potentially a threat to themselves or others, and transported to Broward Health Medical Center, the police said. Officers recovered 10 firearms from his home.

Trump replaced Parscale as his campaign manager in July, after a campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, drew sparse crowds despite Parscale’s public assurance that hundreds of thousands of people had requested tickets. Parscale was replaced at the top of the campaign with his deputy, Bill Stepien, but remained as a senior official.

Campaign Finances

The campaign has also been beset by surprising financial distress. Former Vice President Joe Biden’s election effort entered September with $466 million to spend in the final stretch of the campaign, according to financial disclosures, about $141 million more than Trump’s team.

Trump’s campaign has pulled back on television ads in battleground states around the country, allowing Biden to dominate the airwaves. The Washington Post and ABC News published a poll on Sunday showing Biden with a 10-point lead among likely voters, nationally, while a New York Times and Sienna College poll showed Biden with an eight-point lead.

A spokesman for Trump’s campaign, Tim Murtaugh, promptly blamed the president’s political opponents for the incident on Sunday.

“The disgusting, personal attacks from Democrats and disgruntled RINOs have gone too far, and they should be ashamed of themselves for what they’ve done to this man and his family,” Murtaugh said in a statement.

“RINO” is an acronym for “Republicans in Name Only,” a term Trump and his supporters use to deride Republicans who have publicly turned against the president.

After police released the more detailed accounting of the incident on Monday, including the allegations of spousal abuse, Murtaugh said in a statement: “Our thoughts are with Brad and his family as we wait for all the facts to emerge.”

In May, the Lincoln Project -- a group created by dissident Republicans to oppose Trump’s re-election -- created an online ad highlighting Parscale’s personal wealth and accusing him of “getting rich” off Trump’s campaigns.

Parscale Strategy, the digital services firm he founded, has taken in $16.9 million from Trump’s campaign, the RNC and two joint fundraising committees that support both entities so far in the 2020 cycle, according to Federal Election Commission records. The biggest payments, totaling more than $3.3 million, came in February 2019, but in 2020 the payments have averaged $93,210 a month.

Shortly after Murtaugh’s statement, Stephanie Alexander, the Trump campaign’s chief of staff, sent aides a message asking them to avoid all public comment on Parscale and calling an all-staff meeting for 9 a.m. Monday.

“Brad is a valued and beloved member of our team,” she wrote in the message, obtained by Bloomberg News. “We are thinking of him and supporting him during these times. At this juncture we must respect his privacy and that of his family. Please avoid publicly commenting on an evolving situation.”

Senior White House aides were informed Sunday evening about the incident, according to three people familiar with the matter.

(Updates with 911 call and police bodycam footage beginning in third paragraph)

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