Michigan AG Says She 'Will Not Remain Silent' As Trump Risks Public Health

May 22, 2020
Originally published on May 24, 2020 7:07 am

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel on Friday said President Trump had directly threatened the health and safety of her state's residents through his coronavirus response, including his recent refusals wear a mask in public and defense of those protesting stay-at-home orders.

"He has risked the health, safety and welfare of everyone who lives in this state, and I will not remain silent and just twiddle my thumbs as I see him do that," Nessel told NPR's All Things Considered. His choice not to wear a mask, she said, "sends the worst possible message at the worst possible time."

Nessel's remarks are the latest escalation in a feud between the president and Michigan's state leadership amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Trump, who traveled to Michigan Thursday, called Nessel "The Wacky Do Nothing Attorney General of Michigan," in a tweet after she, on CNN, compared the president to a "petulant child" for not wearing a mask during most of his visit this week to a Ford Motor Co. plant.

"I don't know how else to communicate with this man," Nessel told NPR. "He doesn't respond to respectful requests, apparently these ridiculous tweets is the only kind of communication he knows or understands."

Trump has also previously fanned controversies within Michigan between Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and a faction of far-right protestors, many armed, who stormed the state capitol demanding a suspension of the state's stay-at-home order.

Tweeting in support of the protesters, Trump wrote: "The Governor of Michigan should give a little, and put out the fire. These are very good people, but they are angry. They want their lives back again, safely! See them, talk to them, make a deal."

This was after the armed demonstrators occupied the statehouse demanding to speak with the governor. Some comments in a private Facebook group organizing the event went so far as to threaten violence against Whitmer and other lawmakers, according to the Detroit Metro Times.

"This is an individual who has encouraged people to break the law in a manner that jeopardizes the health of all our state residents. And then when we have armed gunmen storming the capitol holding swastikas and Confederate flags, he calls them very good people who our governor ought to negotiate with," Nessel said on Friday.

Nessel suggested that at least a degree of Trump's ire against Michigan's leadership stemmed from the fact three of its top leaders — the governor, secretary of state and attorney general — are women.

"I guess if any one of us were doing Secretary [of State Mike] Pompeo's dishes, he might be fine with us. But since we're not and we're actually running the state of Michigan, he seems to have a real issue."

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