WASHINGTON — Pandemic politics shadowed President Donald Trump’s trip to Michigan on Thursday to highlight lifesaving medical devices, with the president and officials from the electoral battleground state clashing over federal aid, mail-in ballots and face masks.
Trump is on his way to Ypsilanti, outside Detroit, to tour a Ford Motor Co. factory that had been repurposed to manufacture ventilators, the medical breathing machines governors begged for during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
But his arrival comes amid a long-running feud with the state’s Democratic governor and a day after the president threatened to withhold federal funds over the state’s expanded vote-by-mail effort. And there was also the question of whether the president would wear a face covering, an issue that now comes with a warning from the state’s top law enforcement officer that a refusal to do so may lead to a ban on Trump’s return.
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said that mask wearing isn’t just Ford’s policy but it’s also the law in a state that’s among those hardest hit by the virus. Nessel said that if Trump refused to wear a mask Thursday “he’s going to be asked not to return to any enclosed facilities inside our state.”
“If we know that he’s coming to our state and we know he’s not going to follow the law, I think we’re going to have to take action against any company or any facility that allows him inside those facilities and puts our workers at risk,” Nessel told CNN. “We just simply can’t afford it here in our state.”
Trump has refused to wear a face mask in public, telling aides he believes it makes him look weak, though it is a practice that federal health authorities say all Americans should adopt to help slow the spread of the virus. He would not commit to wearing one when he left the White House heading to Michigan.
“I don’t know, we’ll look at it,” he said.
Ford said everyone in its factories must wear personal protective equipment, including masks, and that its policy has been communicated to the White House. At least two people who work in the White House and had been physically close to Trump recently tested positive for the virus. Trump is tested daily; he said Thursday he tested negative that morning.
An executive order issued by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer requires factories to suspend all nonessential in-person visits, including tours, though Nessel said her office would not bar Trump.
The Republican president and Whitmer have clashed during the coronavirus outbreak over her criticism of the federal government’s response to the state’s needs for medical equipment, like ventilators, and personal protective gear, such as gloves, masks and gowns.
On Wednesday, Trump threatened to withhold federal funds from Michigan after its secretary of state mailed absentee ballot applications to millions of voters. Trump first tweeted — erroneously — that the Democratic state official had mailed absentee ballots to Michigan voters. He later sent a corrected tweet specifying that applications to request absentee ballots had been mailed and seemed to back off his funding threat.
Trump narrowly won Michigan in 2016. He insists mail-in voting is ripe for fraud, although there is scant evidence of wrongdoing.
“We don’t want them to do mail in ballots because it’s going to lead to total election fraud,” Trump said Thursday, But then he allowed for some exceptions, including for himself.
“Now, if somebody has to mail it in because they’re sick, or by the way because they live in the White House and they have to vote in Florida and they won’t be in Florida. But there’s a reason for it, that’s OK.”
Trying to signal to the nation that life is returning to normal, the president had begun travelling again, with all of his initial trips to states that will be hotly contested in this November’s election. Campaign advisers have grown increasingly worried about Michigan, believing that the president’s attacks on Whitmer have not worked and that the toll the virus has taken in the Detroit area, particularly among African Americans, will prove costly politically.
Advisers have become convinced that of the three Rust Belt states that Trump took from Democrats in 2016, Michigan would be much more difficult to win again than Pennsylvania and, especially, Wisconsin.
In the early days of the crisis, Whitmer and other governors and medical workers clamoured for ventilators, fearing a shortage of the machines would prove deadly as the virus made breathing difficult for the scores of afflicted patients who were being brought to hospitals.
But the U.S. now has a surplus of the breathing machines, leading Trump to begin describing the U.S. as the “king of ventilators.”
Whitmer was not expected to accompany Trump during the visit.
“We do not have plans to meet, but I did speak with him yesterday on the phone,” Whitmer told “CBS This Morning” on Thursday. “I made the case that, you know, we all have to be on the same page here. We’ve gotta stop demonizing one another and, really, focus on the fact that the common enemy is the virus.”
Trump on Wednesday said he and Whitmer in their call discussed the coronavirus pandemic and the catastrophic flooding and mass evacuations caused by the failure of dams in the state’s central region — not his tweeted threat to withhold federal money.
Trump also needled Whitmer on Twitter over her decision to keep stay-at-home orders largely in place. He said military and federal emergency management teams had been sent to assist with the flood response but added that the “Governor must now ‘set you free’ to help.”
That was a reference to his strong push for states to lift stay-at-home restrictions and allow businesses to reopen so people can resume shopping and dining out.
Last month, Trump tweeted “LIBERATE MICHIGAN” as residents there and in other states began holding protests against orders to stay at home.
Lemire reported from New York. Associated Press writers David Eggert in Lansing, Mich. and Zeke Miller in Washington contributed reporting.
Follow Darlene Superville on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/dsupervilleap and Lemire at http://twitter.com/@JonLemire
Darlene Superville And Jonathan Lemire, The Associated Press
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Political and General News Events from June 2 – National Post
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Today in Washington
—————————————————————- This diary is filed daily. ** Indicates new events —————————————————————-
TUESDAY, JUNE 2
** TALLINN – Polish Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz will visit Tallinn and meet with his counterparts from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. ** BUDAPEST- Slovak Foreign Minister Ivan Korcok and Hungarian counterpart Peter Szijjárto meet in Budapest to discuss easing border restrictions in the region and also in the European Union. ** LONDON – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson holds a cabinet meeting of his top ministers, a day after introducing new measures to relax a stringent lockdown. ** BERLIN – German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas receives Ukraine counterpart Kuyleba Dmytro in Berlin – 1000 GMT. ** LONDON- British Health Secretary Matt Hancock updates lawmakers on the UK’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic – 1130 GMT.
** MADRID – Spain’s economy minister Calvino to participate at session in senate – 1400 GMT.
BERLIN – German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas and his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba speak to reporters on the sidelines of a joint meeting. GREECE – Greek, Israeli and Cypriot energy ministers speak at a virtual conference on their energy partnership and its role in regional energy security and economic cooperation in the age of COVID-19. BRUSSELS – The European Commission’s top economy official, Valdis Dombrovskis, and France’s EU affairs minister, Amelie de Montchalin, discuss the proposed 750 billion euro economic stimulus plan on a webinar – 1400 GMT. BERLIN – Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba and presidential office head Andriy Yermak will pay a visit to Berlin.
– – – – – – – – –
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 3
** ATHENS – Greece Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis will meet President of the Hellenic Republic Katerina Sakellaropoulou at the Presidential Mansion – 1500 GMT.
** WASHINGTON DC – U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin holds call with G7 finance ministers. ** WASHINGTON DC – International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva takes part in online forum – 1800 GMT. ** MOSCOW – WHO Regional Director for Europe Hans Kluge is to brief online Russian language media on COVID-19 – 1000 GMT. ** ROME – Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio meets French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian in Rome and hold joint news conference – 1600 GMT.
LONDON- UK financial services minister John Glen speaks on government priorities for recovery following COVID-19 at investment webinar – 0830 GMT. PRAGUE – Slovakia’s new Prime Minister Igor Matovic visits Prague to meet his counterpart Andrej Babis and other officials.
BRUSSELS – The European Commission’s climate chief, Frans Timmermans, presents an assessment of the EU member states’ national energy and climate plans.
– – – – – – – – – THURSDAY, JUNE 4
** MADRID – Spain’s economy minister Nadia Calvino to participate in online economy forum – 0700 GMT. ** MADRID – The President of the European Parliament, David Sassoli, participates in “Nueva Economia Forum” online meeting – 0900 GMT. ** WASHINGTON DC – IMF spokesman Gerry Rice holds regular briefing to discuss global economy and the impact of the COVID-19pandemic on emerging market and developing countries – 1430 GMT. CHILE – 9th anniversary of Chile’s Puyehue volcano eruption, causing air traffic cancellations across South America, New Zealand, Australia.
HONG KONG – Tens of thousands attend a candlelight vigil in Hong Kong to commemorate the 31st anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown in Beijing.
BRUSSELS – Video conference of EU ministers of justice
BRUSSELS – Video conference of EU transport ministers – – – – – – – – – FRIDAY, JUNE 5
GREECE – The Economist holds conference entitled “Euro zone’s quest for a coronavirus vaccine.” Eurogroup’s head Mario Centeno, EU Commission’s Executive Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis, Greek Finance Minister Christos Staikouras and Piraeus Bank Chief Executive Officer Christos Megalou will speak – 1430 GMT.
GLOBAL – World Environment Day.
SAINT KITTS and NEVIS – Kittitian and Nevisian National Assembly election. – – – – – – – – –
SATURDAY, JUNE 6
LJUBLJANA – Italian foreign minister Luigi di Maio visits Slovenia.
SEOUL – South Korea marks the 65th anniversary of Memorial Day. – – – – – – – – –
MONDAY, JUNE 8 BRUSSELS – European foreign affairs minister meet in Brussels. – – – – – – – – –
TUESDAY, JUNE 9
VIENNA – 179th Meeting of the OPEC Conference via video conference.
– – – – – – – – –
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 10
VIENNA – 11th OPEC and non-OPEC Ministerial Meeting via video conference.
– – – – – – – – – THURSDAY, JUNE 11
DODOMA – Tanzania finance minister presents 2020/21 fiscal budget to parliament
NAIROBI – Kenya’s Finance Minister is scheduled to present the government’s budget for the 2020/21 fiscal year to parliament – 1200 GMT FREDRICK COUNTY, MARYLAND, U.S. – U.S. President Donald Trump hosts G7 leaders at Camp David (to June 12).
LUXEMBOURG – Eurogroup meeting. – – – – – – – – –
FRIDAY, JUNE 12
GLOBAL – World Day against Child Labour. – – – – – – – – –
SUNDAY, JUNE 14
GLOBAL – World Blood Donor Day.
GAZA – 13th anniversary of Hamas takeover of the Gaza strip from Fatah. – – – – – – – – –
MONDAY, JUNE 15 GLOBAL – World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD). BRUSSELS – EU-UK officials meet to assess progress in Brexit talks ahead of EU summit
– – – – – – – – –
WENDESDAY, JUNE 17
GLOBAL – United Nation’s World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought. MOSCOW – Russian Energy minister Alexander Valentinovich Novak attends a conference on COVID-19 and the future of energy sector. – – – – – – – – –
THURSDAY, JUNE 18
BRUSSELS – European Council meeting (to June 19).
– – – – – – – – –
SATURDAY, JUNE 20
GLOBAL – World Refugee Day. Sri Lanka – Sri Lankan Parliament election. – – – – – – – – –
TUESDAY, JUNE 23 KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – APEC finance senior officials’ meeting (to June 25). – – – – – – – – –
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 24 BERLIN – 72nd anniversary of beginning of The Berlin Blockade. Communist forces cut off all land and water routes between West Germany and West Berlin, prompting the United States to organize a massive airlift.
MOSCOW – Abkhazia’s President Aslan Bzhania will attend Moscow’s Victory Day parade, rescheduled by Russian President Vladimir Putin for June 24
CHISINAU – Moldovan President Igor Dodon will attend a military parade commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Soviet Union’s victory in the Great Patriotic War. BRUSSELS – Vice president of the EU Commission, Frans Timmermans, presents the bloc’s smart sector integration.
Mongolia – Mongolian State Great Hural Election. – – – – – – – – –
THURSDAY, JUNE 25
LOS ANGELES – 11th death anniversary of pop star Michael Jackson. – – – – – – – – – FRIDAY, JUNE 26
GLOBAL – International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking. – – – – – – – – –
SATURDAY, JUNE 27 Iceland – President election. – – – – – – – – –
MONDAY, JUNE 29 PYEONGTAEK – South Korea observes the 18th anniversary of an inter-Korean sea clash.
BEJING/TAIPEI – 10th Anniversary of signing of a landmark trade deal between China and Taiwan.
LUXEMBOURG – European ministers for agriculture and fisheries meet for talks. (to June 30). – – – – – – – – –
SUNDAY, JULY 5
Dominican Republic – Chamber of Deputies election. Dominican Republic – Senate election. Dominican Republic – President election.
– – – – – – – – –
TUESDAY, JULY 7
Malawi – President’s election. – – – – – – – – –
SATURDAY, JULY 18 RIYADH – Saudi Arabia hosts third meeting of G20 finance ministers and central bank governors in Riyadh.(to July 19).
– – – – – – – – – TUESDAY, JULY 21
SAINT PETERSBURG, Russia – Russia hosts SCO and BRICS summits (to July 23). – – – – – – – – –
MONDAY, JULY 27 MANILA – Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte delivers State of the Nation address.
FRIDAY, July 31
VALPARAISO, Chile – Chile’s President Sebastian Pinera delivers the annual state of the nation address.
HANOI – Vietnam host 53rd ASEAN Ministerial Meeting and Related Meetings (to August 5).
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – NOTE: The inclusion of diary items does not necessarily mean that Reuters will file a story based on the event.
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