Michigan Governor Whitmer Accuses Trump of Egging on Anti-Lockdown Protesters, as Court Backs Her Emergency Powers

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer said that President Donald Trump encouraged anti-lockdown protesters in an interview released the same day that her state's court of appeals said that she didn't exceed her emergency powers.

.@GovWhitmer reacts to the anti-lockdown protesters that came to the state capitol, some armed and displaying violent imagery.

“Absolutely President Trump is egging them on,” she says. “I'm not going to be bullied into making decisions that are going to cost people's lives.” pic.twitter.com/tlzlZYzexJ

— Firing Line with Margaret Hoover (@FiringLineShow) August 21, 2020

In an interview with PBS' Firing Line that aired on Friday night, Whitmer spoke about the response she received to lockdowns following the coronavirus pandemic.

When asked if the president was egging on the protesters, Whitmer said that she "absolutely" thought Trump was egging them on by writing tweets calling to "Liberate Michigan." She said that while she wasn't fazed by the protesters, the president's tweets do affect people. "I'm not going to be bullied into making decisions that are going to cost people's lives," she said. "But when the president eggs people on, it has an impact."


— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 17, 2020

The governor proceeded to criticize Trump for using language that led to her receiving death threats from anti-lockdown protesters, but again said that the threats did not affect her decisions in taking action to prevent COVID-19's spread. "This rhetoric that has come out of this, consistently out of this White House has engendered a hateful environment that has emboldened people's worst tendencies—death threats against me, you know, people putting likeness of me in a noose, for instance," she said. "I'm not going to be dissuaded from following the best science and the best minds in medicine, because whether people voted for me or not, whether they agree with me or not, whether they're standing out there protesting me or not, my job is to protect them, and that's what I'm going to do."

She also said that Trump's tweets made it harder for her to get approval for emergency orders. "Up until then, my legislature was supporting my emergency orders," she said. "When that happened, they wouldn't extend an emergency order. They started taking me to court, started introducing legislation to take the powers of the governor away."

Despite the issues she ran into following the president's tweets, the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled her state of emergency declaration constitutional on Friday. According to the Detroit Free Press, the court was looking into the governor's actions in regards to the Emergency Powers of Governor Act. In a statement, Whitmer's office called the ruling a win in regards to the governor's efforts to slow the coronavirus's spread.

.@GovWhitmer, who has been critical of Pres. Trump and the federal government’s response to COVID, has praise for VP Pence.
“I think that Mike Pence is a decent human being” who has “made himself very available,” she says. “I don't have a bad word to say about that relationship.” pic.twitter.com/SdUzfV7xcU

— Firing Line with Margaret Hoover (@FiringLineShow) August 21, 2020

While Whitmer said that the president was egging on anti-lockdown protesters, she praised Vice President Mike Pence. She called him "a decent human being" and said that he'd been helpful and responsive to her requests about COVID-19.

In the interview, Whitmer also addressed other issues currently on Americans' minds, including mail-in voting and the upcoming election. She spoke about her being considered for former Vice President Joe Biden's campaign as his running mate, calling it an "honor."

Given the legal battles unfolding in more than 40 states over mail-in voting, how are we going to be able to count on the results of the election?

“We're going to get an accurate count,” says @GovWhitmer. “If it takes a little longer, it takes a little longer.” pic.twitter.com/Yy6idX6sqA

— Firing Line with Margaret Hoover (@FiringLineShow) August 21, 2020

A press contact for Whitmer did not respond to Newsweek's emailed request for comment in time for publication.

Gretchen Whitmer
In this screenshot from the DNCC’s livestream of the 2020 Democratic National Convention, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer addresses the virtual convention on August 17, 2020. Whitmer spoke about her response to the coronavirus pandemic in an interview with "Firing Line." Handout/DNCC/Getty