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LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette said Friday his rival’s criticism over the prosecution of top state officials for Flint’s water crisis is “false” and a “desperate” attempt to shift the focus in the governor’s race before President Donald Trump visits. 

Schuette and Lt. Gov. Brian Calley are Republicans running for governor. Calley told The Associated Press this week that the Flint-related charges are a “gross abuse of power” and that lengthy probable cause hearings for two members of Gov. Rick Snyder’s Cabinet are “show trials.”

Schuette countered that what happened in Flint “is a serious matter.”

“I’m just doing my job. Quite frankly, if I had not done anything, that would have been the political decision,” Schuette told reporters on a conference call in which he discussed Trump’s planned Saturday night rally in Macomb County. “But you know I took an oath to enforce the law. This is about accountability. When 12 people died and kids were poisoned, to me that warrants a determination of what laws were broken.”

Schuette, whom Trump is backing for governor and who plans to meet privately with Trump on Saturday, said Calley made his “false” allegations because he has trailed in GOP primary polling.

“He’s desperately behind and when you’re desperately behind you do desperate things,” he said. “The fact is he’s trying to change the subject because he deserted President Trump and President Trump is coming in and supports me.”

A month before Trump’s narrow 2016 victory in Michigan, Calley withdrew his support for Trump due to a video recording in which Trump made crude comments about groping women. Calley, who has said he still voted for Trump, said he will not attend the rally because he had already committed to another event in his role as lieutenant governor.

“Lt. Gov. Calley supports many of President Trump’s policies and appreciates the attention he is showing to Michigan,” campaign spokesman Mike Schrimpf said.

He renewed Calley’s accusations against Schuette.

“The people of Flint deserve accountability free of politics, not show trials as part of a campaign for governor,” Schrimpf said.

The criminal investigation of the Flint crisis has led 15 current or former government officials to be charged, including two members of the term-limited governor’s Cabinet — Health and Human Services Director Nick Lyon and Chief Medical Executive Eden Wells — who are accused of not telling the public about a fatal Legionnaires’ disease outbreak in 2014 and 2015.

Lyon’s preliminary exam on manslaughter and other charges began seven months ago. Wells’ hearing started in November.

Those who helped expose the lead-contaminated water in 2015, Virginia Tech University researcher Marc Edwards and Flint pediatrician Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, were recently called to testify on behalf of Wells and Lyon.

Four other defendants pleaded no contest in deals with special prosecutor Todd Flood, while nine others still face charges.


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