Donald Trump renews his support of illegal, armed protests over State stay-at-home orders preventing the spread of Coronavirus.
The White House blocks any testimony to Congress by Dr. Anthony Fauci, the Administration’s top infectious disease experts, and dismisses an official who spoke of shortages of medical supplies and problems with their distribution.
Meanwhile the US death toll rises to 65,098, with 1,103,781 confirmed cases.
“Very Good People”
Trump opened Friday with the revival of his support of protesters, many of them carrying guns and some affiliated with far-right movements, who have gathered in defiance of social distancing guidelines and stay-at-home orders.
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.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 1, 2020
On Thursday, images showed armed men inside the Michigan State Capitol, including in the chamber where legislators were meeting.
Michigan is led by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a target of Trump’s insults after she was praised for her leadership amid 3,866 deaths in the state, the third-highest total in the US.
Two weeks ago, after right-wing groups organized protests, Trump launched a Twitter barrage calling on the illegal gatherings to “LIBERATE” Michigan, Minnesota, and Virginia.
As he sought to remove stay-at-home orders by May 1, Trump maintained the call for days, including in White House briefings. However, he retreated after criticism by legislators and State governors. White House medical advisors, including Dr Fauci, said the quick removal of the orders would bring a resurgence of Coronavirus.
But the right-wing groups and some Republican legislators continued to mobilize the protests. On Friday, hundreds of protesters gathered at the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield and in downtown Chicago over Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s extension of a stay-at-home order until May 29.
Hundreds of people gathered in Huntington Beach, California after Gov. Gavin Newsom closed local beaches to maintain social distancing.
And a Republican State representative in Louisiana, saying “the people…are about to revolt”, has organized a demonstration on Saturday outside the house of Gov. John Bel Edwards.
Some lawmakers are trying to overturn Edwards’ orders over Coronavirus, leaving Louisiana as the only US state without an emergency declaration.
Whitmer, Newsom, and Edwards are all Democrats. Trump has not called for protests in any state with a Republican governor.
Although some states have begun easing the orders, an ABC News/Ipsos poll this week indicated that less than 25% of respondents are likely to resume activities where groups are present.