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Ahead of his much-publicized presidential visit to a Michigan Ford Motor plant repurposed to produce personal protective equipment on Thursday, the state’s Democratic attorney general posted an open letter to President Trump insisting that he wear a facemask and reminding him that it is “currently the law of this State” to do so. When President Trump defied her instructions, Attorney General Dana Nessel appeared on CNN to declare that she is “ashamed” that he is the President of the United States and accuse Trump of not caring about Michiganders’ “safety.” Nessel also suggested that Ford might be punished for allowing the president to take off his mask.
The dustup between Nessel and Trump began with the Democratic AG announcing to the nation Wednesday that she had written an open letter to the president informing him that while she was choosing to “not prevent [him] from touring Ford’s plant,” he must “respect the great efforts of the men and women at Ford – and across this State – by wearing a facial covering.”
“It is not just the policy of Ford, by virtue of the Governor’s Executive Orders,” Nessel underscored. “It is currently the law of this State.”
In an appearance on Trump’s least favorite cable news network ahead of his visit Thursday, Nessel escalated her warning, telling Alisyn Camerota that if the president fails to follow her instructions, he’ll be asked “not to return” to any such facilities in Michigan. “Honestly, if he fails to wear a mask, he’s going to be asked not to return to any enclosed facility inside our state,” said the Democrat.
But while Trump chose to wear a mask — a navy blue one with a presidential seal — while tour the Ford plant in Ypsilanti, he took it off when he got in front of the cameras, announcing that he did not want to “give the press the pleasure of seeing it.”
Asked by a reporter why he wasn’t wearing a mask, Trump said, “Not necessary. Everybody’s been tested and I’ve been tested.” While he said he “had one on before,” he took it off. “I didn’t want to give the press the pleasure of seeing it,” he explained.
“I was given a choice, and I had one on in an area where [Ford executives] preferred it,” said Trump.
His decision to remove the mask in defiance of her orders incensed Nessel, who was given a chance afterward to express her opinion on the matter once again on CNN.
“I am ashamed to have him be President of the United States of America,” Nessel told Wolf Blitzer on “The Situation Room” Thursday.
His decision to defy Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s orders, Nessel hoped, will end up coming back to haunt him in November.
“I hope that the voters of Michigan will remember this when November comes, that he didn’t care enough about their safety, he didn’t care about their welfare, he didn’t respect them enough just to engage in the very simple task, the painless task, the easy task of wearing a mask when he was provided one,” she said. “And so I hope that we’ll have a new president soon enough who does respect people more than this president does.”
Meanwhile, Nessel strongly hinted that Ford might now be in trouble with the state.
“I think that we’re going to have to have a very serious conversation with Ford in the event that they permitted the President to be in publicly enclosed places in violation of the order,” Nessel said. “They knew exactly what the order was and if they permitted anyone, even the President of the United States, to defy that order, I think it has serious health consequences potentially to their workers.”
Ahead of the visit, Nessel had threatened legal action against companies that don’t force people to comply with the mask order. “I know that Ford has asked him to do the same thing, but 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,” she said.