Trump's message to 'liberate' states dangerous: Washington Gov. Jay Inslee

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee appeared Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.”

April 19, 2020, 11:26 AM

President Donald Trump's message to liberate states, as some Americans gather across the country to protest stay-at-home orders amid the coronavirus pandemic, is basically encouraging illegal activity, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.”

"To have an American president to encourage people violate the law, I can't remember any time in my time in America we have seen such a thing. It's dangerous, because it could inspire people to ignore things that could save their lives," he told ABC Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos.

"And it's doubly frustrating to us governors," he added. "The president is asking people 'please ignore Dr. Fauci, Dr. Birx, please ignore my own guidelines I set forth.'"

President Donald Trump has said during his daily briefings that he doesn’t believe that protests against stay-at-home orders are putting people at risk of spreading or contracting COVID-19.

President Donald Trump addresses the daily coronavirus task force briefing at the White House in Washington, April 17, 2020.
Leah Millis/Reuters

In a Saturday briefing, in the midst of the debate over timelines for reopening the country, Trump reiterated his statements.

“Well, there is a lot of injustice. When you look at Virginia, where they want to take your guns away, they want to violate your Second Amendment. When you look at, I mean, look, I'm getting along very nicely with the governor of Michigan. She says don't buy paint, don’t buy roses, don’t buy -- she’s got all these crazy things,” Trump said. “I believe somebody sitting in their boat in a lake should be OK. They shouldn't arrest people. Some of them are being unreasonable. I really believe that. They’re being unreasonable.”

Inslee said Friday that Trump's "unhinged rantings and calls for people to “liberate” states could also lead to violence. We’ve seen it before."

On "This Week" Sunday he said that he hopes that there can be "restoration of leadership in the White House."

While Trump and some states have pushed for quick reopening of the country, Inslee said he has encouraged people in Washington -- home to the first COVID-19 hotspot in the United States -- to continue staying at home for the time being.

PHOTO: Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee talks at a press conference about the coronavirus outbreak, March 16, 2020, in Seattle.
FILE PHOTO: Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee talks at a press conference about the coronavirus outbreak, March 16, 2020, in Seattle.
Pool/Getty Images

"Everybody is very anxious to have a date, you know, they're wanting to get out and see their grandkids, they're wanting to get back to work. People without a paycheck have extreme anxiety about this and so this is something very, very deep, to have that date to be able to shoot for, obviously, no one has a crystal ball," Inslee told Stephanopoulos.

Washington is beginning to recover from the pandemic, but Inslee said there is still more work to do.

"We still haven't gotten the curve going down, we're still plateaued, if you will," Inslee said. "We want to make sure we wrestle this beast to the ground. And the reason is, you have to get the infections down to a low enough number where you can handle it through very rigorous testing and robust testing."

He said that the state is hoping to begin phasing into reopening some parts of the economy in the coming weeks -- but it certainly won't be all at once.

"This isn't a light switch," Inslee said. "What I'm trying to encourage people is focus on what we can do today."

Another thing that states are beginning to look at addressing is how to handle the 2020 election cycle that has been upended amid the pandemic.

Washington state is one of the few which conducts elections entirely by mail -- another controversial topic between Trump and some Democratic leaders. Trump has argued in recent weeks -- as states grapple with how to conduct upcoming elections safely -- that administering elections by mail makes them more susceptible to fraud.

Inslee said Sunday that is simply untrue.

"This is a tremendous work in democracy. Because it's the easiest, safest, most reliable voting there is. Our numbers have gone up in voter participation. It's been a spectacular success. And certainly, when people risk their lives to go physically vote right now with this COVID epidemic, I know there are some in the other party who are afraid more people will vote if we have (mail-in voting)," Inslee said.

"That shouldn't be a fear, that should be a hope. We should increase voter participation any way we can. Oregon has led this effort. It's been fantastic. Virtually, no fraud. Increased participation. People love it," he said.

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