- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 16, 2020

R.E.M. is “exploring all legal avenues” to keep President Trump from playing the band’s music at his reelection campaign rallies, founding member Mike Mills said Wednesday.

“We are aware that the President* @realDonaldTrump continues to use our music at his rallies,” Mr. Mills said on Twitter. “We are exploring all legal avenues to prevent this, but if that’s not possible please know that we do not condone the use of our music by this fraud and con man.”

Mr. Mills, who co-founded R.E.M. in 1980 and played bass in the band until its dissolution in 2011, took aim at Mr. Trump after learning that two of the group’s most popular tunes — “Everybody Hurts” and “Losing My Religion” — were played prior to the president taking the stage Tuesday during a rally in Milwaukee.

“If he has better songs, he should use them,” Mr. Mills said in a subsequent tweet.

Representatives for Mr. Trump’s reelection campaign did not immediately return a request for comment.

Mr. Mills, 61, has been frequently critical of Mr. Trump on Twitter, and he has previously tweeted that the president is a “fraud,” “insane” and a “sad, sick, scared little man.”

He has also complained repeatedly about Mr. Trump using R.E.M.’s music without permission, including as far back as the president’s first election campaign.

“Personally, I think the Orange Clown will do anything for attention,” Mr. Mills said in 2015 after another R.E.M. song, “It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine),” was heard playing at an early Trump rally. “I hate giving it to him.”

Mr. Mills spoke out in February after Mr. Trump shared a video on Twitter that included audio of “Everybody Hurts” used without R.E.M.’s permission. Originally posted by a Trump supporter prior to being retweeted by the president’s official account, that video was ultimately removed from the platform after Mr. Mills complained publicly to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey.

Mr. Mills isn’t the only member of R.E.M. opposed to having the band’s songs played at the president’s rallies. Michael Stipe, the group’s former frontman, issued a stern statement in 2015 after becoming aware of his music being played at a political event featuring Mr. Trump.

“Do not use our music or my voice for your moronic charade of a campaign,” Mr. Stipe said at the time.

• Andrew Blake can be reached at ablake@washingtontimes.com.

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