President Donald Trump behaved “like a punk” as he incited his right-wing followers to protest COVID-19 safety measures, MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace said Friday.
Several Democrats at the state and nation levels, meanwhile, blasted the president for fomenting domestic violence with a series of tweets calling on his supporters to “liberate” Virginia, Minnesota and Michigan — all states with Democratic governors.
Trump urged the action as groups have formed to protest stay-at-home orders and business closures aimed at stemming the spread of the coronavirus. He ominously also called on people in Virginia to protect their gun rights, which are “under siege,” he said.
The protesters, including many Trump supporters wearing “Make America Great Again” hats or black balaklavas, and some armed with semiautomatic weapons, descended on Michigan’s Capitol on Wednesday. One man without gloves handed out candy to children, according to Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, apparently to flout his lack of concern about spreading a virus that has killed more than 36,000 Americans in less than eight weeks. The conservative Michigan Freedom Fund, which has been linked to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, denied accusations that it organized the event, but it did promote the protest.
The ongoing conflict is about Trump’s “fragile, teeny-tiny ego and the vast nation that he leads, and he’s making all his decisions based on press coverage,” Wallace said on “Deadline: White House.” The difference here … is that people are dying — more than 30,000 people have died. The virus is still spreading across the country. And Donald Trump today, like a punk, seemed to tweet about protesters.” (Check out Wallace’s comments in the video up top.)
Other critics pointed out that Trump just a day ago said it was up to governors to say when COVID-19 restrictions can be lifted. “You’re going to call your own shots,” Trump told state leaders, NBC News reported.
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) said Trump was “encouraging citizens to engage in armed rebellion. He sent this tweet … after his supporters showed up with assault weapons at state capitols,” Murphy added. “He knows [what] he’s doing.”
Gov. Jay Inslee (D) of Washington, an early hot spot for COVID-19, also accused Trump of “fomenting domestic rebellion.” He charged that Trump is “spreading lies even while his own administration says the virus is real and is deadly, and that we have a long way to go before restrictions can be lifted,” Inslee said in a statement.
Whitmer, a particular target of Trump ― he’s attacked her for “complaining” ― said she hoped the president’s tweets would not incite more protests.
“There is a lot of anxiety,” Whitmer said at a news briefing Friday. “The most important thing that anyone with a platform can do is try to use that platform to tell people, ‘We are going to get through this.’”