One of the people who Donald Trump Jr. talked to via a blocked number on his cell phone in June of 2016 was former NASCAR CEO Brian France.
The blocked calls came before and after Trump Jr. met with a Russian lawyer in Trump Tower in an infamous meeting that has been a subject of special counsel Robert Mueller’s wide-ranging investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Speculation surrounded Trump Jr.’s calls because of the blocked numbers and who the people on the other end of the phone could be. Had he informed his father of what could be and what was discussed in the meeting? But according to multiple reports, the Senate Intelligence Committee has determined that France was one of the blocked numbers while developer Howard Lorber was the other.
France endorsed Trump in 2016
France, who was NASCAR’s CEO through August of 2018, tied the series to Donald Trump’s candidacy for the presidency in February of 2016 when he made a public endorsement of Trump for president. While NASCAR spokespeople tried to characterize France’s endorsement as a private and personal endorsement, Trump tweeted shortly after France’s endorsement that he had gotten the endorsement of NASCAR.
The endorsement came less than a year after NASCAR relocated the season-ending banquets for the Xfinity Series and Truck Series because of comments that Trump had made regarding Mexicans in his presidential campaign kickoff event. Marcus Lemonis, the CEO of Truck Series sponsor Camping World, had said he would not be attending any event at Trump’s properties following Trump’s remarks in the summer of 2015. Not long after Lemonis said that, the banquets were moved.
NASCAR was tied to the Trump presidency again in 2017 and 2018. After two NASCAR team owners said they would punish employees if they knelt during the national anthem, President Trump said he was proud of the series. And before the 2018 Daytona 500 started, President Trump tweeted that the France family were special people.
Trump even made sure to mention that NASCAR teams stood for the national anthem when 2017 Cup Series champion Martin Truex Jr. visited the White House in May of 2018. He also made sure to note that France had been a supporter of his since before the election.
“Brian has been with us since the beginning like so many others who love NASCAR and he’s been really a supporter right from the beginning,” Trump said at the Truex ceremony. “He said, ‘We support Trump.’ And so I want to thank you very much Brian, that was incredible. That meant a lot.”
France was arrested in August
France went on a leave of absence from NASCAR in August 2018 after he was arrested for DWI and possession of a controlled substance in New York. The son of Bill France Jr. and the grandson of NASCAR founder Bill France Sr., France had been the CEO of NASCAR since 2003.
After his arrest, France was replaced by his uncle Jim France as the sanctioning body’s CEO. There is currently no interim tag in front of Jim France’s title. Brian’s sister Lisa France Kennedy is the chairwoman of International Speedway Corporation, the public track ownership company that was founded by the France family. NASCAR announced late in 2018 that it would be making a bid for International Speedway Corporation to fold the company under the NASCAR umbrella and take it private.
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.
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