Donald Trump praised protesters who want to end social distancing before it's safe.
Donald Trump sympathized with Michigan protesters who violated national and state safety guidelines to express their anger at Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D-MI).
"Do you urge those protesters to listen to local authorities?" Trump was asked.
"I think they're listening. I think they listen to me," Trump said. "They seem to be protesters that like me and respect this opinion, and my opinion is the same as just about all of the governors."
However, the protesters Trump mentioned were neither listening to state and federal health guidelines.
On Wednesday, hundreds of conservatives gathered at the Michigan state capitol to protest Whitmer's stay-at-home order. Chants of "We will not comply" were mixed with "Lock her up," chants, the Washington Post reported. The protesters ignored guidance prohibiting groups of more than 10 people together, as well as restrictions on discretionary travel.
The protests followed Whitmer's executive order last Thursday, which the Post described as one of the country's strictest stay-at-home orders. The protests were organized by the Michigan Conservative Coalition and Michigan Freedom Fund, which has ties to Betsy DeVos, Trump's education secretary.
Whitmer expressed concern for the safety of those going into public to protest.
"We know that when people gather that way without masks … that's how COVID-19 spreads," Whitmer said, according to the Post. "And so the sad irony here is that the protest was that they don't like being in this stay-at-home order, and they may have just created a need to lengthen it, which is something we're trying to avoid at all costs."
She added that "I'm trying to save lives here," and said, "the enemy is the virus. Not one another.”
Trump has repeatedly attacked Whitmer during the coronavirus crisis.
"Failing Michigan Governor must work harder and be much more proactive," Trump tweeted on March 17, after Whitmer accurately pointed out that the federal government was slow to take the coronavirus crisis seriously.
Later that month, Whitmer reached out to the federal government for assistance while Trump went on television attacking her again.
"I reached out to the White House last night, asked for a phone call with the president, ironically at the same time that all this other stuff was going on," Whitmer said on March 27.
"She's not stepping up," Trump said told Sean Hannity of Fox News as Whitmer sought his help. "All she does is sit there and blame the federal government. She doesn't get it done. And we send her a lot." Trump also said Whitmer "is a new governor, and it's not been pleasant."
Michigan has the fourth-highest number of reported coronavirus cases in the nation, at 29,119. The state has recorded at least 2,091 deaths from the pandemic.
Nationwide, more than 667,000 cases have been reported, and at least 30,665 people have died.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.