President Donald Trump said Friday that he instructed Vice President Mike Pence not to reach out to governors who aren’t “appreciative” of his administration’s efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus in their states.
“If they don’t treat you right, I don’t call,” Trump said of those state leaders.
“I think they should be appreciative. Because you know what? When they’re not appreciative to me, they’re not appreciative to the Army Corps [of Engineers], they’re not appreciative to FEMA. It’s not right,” Trump told reporters at a daily press briefing at the White House.
The president mentioned Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, both Democrats who have been critical of the White House’s actions to combat the deadly pandemic.
Trump said that Pence “calls all the governors. And I tell him, I’m a different type of person, and I say, ‘Mike, don’t call the governor of Washington. You’re wasting your time with him.”
“Don’t call the woman in Michigan. It doesn’t make any difference what happens,” Trump also said he told Pence, who leads the U.S. response to the coronavirus.
The president’s remarks came shortly after the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the U.S. topped 100,000, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. The World Health Organization warned this week that the pandemic is accelerating around the world.
Inslee responded to Trump’s remarks in a tweet, saying he wasn’t going to “let personal attacks from the president distract me from what matters: beating this virus and keeping Washingtonians healthy.”
Political leaders at every level of government have taken extreme steps to slow transmission of the virus. An increasing number of states, including Washington and Michigan, have ordered residents to stay home and have temporarily closed schools and closed non-essential businesses.
At the federal level, the House passed a $2 trillion economic stimulus bill intended to blunt the devastating economic impact of the virus and the containment measures being imposed on millions of Americans. Trump signed the bill – the largest relief package in U.S. history – earlier Friday.
Trump said that his administration has “done a great job for the state of Washington,” and has “taken such great care of Michigan.”
Trump described Inslee as “a failed presidential candidate” who is “constantly chirping, and I guess complaining would be a nice way of saying it.”
“Michigan, all she does is — she has no idea what’s going on, and all she does is say, ‘Oh, it’s the federal government’s fault,'” Trump said.
He contrasted those governors with New York’s Andrew Cuomo and Phil Murphy of New Jersey. “I think if you ask Governor Murphy of New Jersey how we’re doing, I think he’d say, ‘Great.'”
“Governor Cuomo has really said we’re really doing a great job,” Trump added.
The White House did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for additional comment on the president’s remarks. The vice president’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Earlier Friday, Trump invoked the Defense Production Act to compel General Motors to make ventilators – a desperately needed piece of medical equipment in coronavirus “hot spots” such as New York.
Trump had complained about GM that morning on Twitter, accusing the U.S. manufacturing giant of changing the terms of an agreement to produce the ventilators.
“As usual with ‘this’ General Motors, things just never seem to work out,” Trump tweeted. “They said they were going to give us 40,000 much needed Ventilators, ‘very quickly’. Now they are saying it will only be 6000, in late April, and they want top dollar.”
At the briefing, the president said of his dealings with GM that he “didn’t go into it with a very favorable view.”
“I was extremely unhappy” with GM’s decision last year to shutter an auto plant in Lordstown, Ohio, Trump said. He viewed that move as a personal insult.