President Donald Trump’s message to liberate states is basically encouraging people to break the law, Gov. Jay Inslee said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.”
“To have an American president to encourage people to violate the law, I can’t remember any time in my time in America we have seen such a thing,” Inslee said. “It is dangerous, because it could inspire people to ignore things that could save their lives,” Inslee told ABC chief anchor George Stephanopoulos.
“And it is doubly frustrating to us governors,” Inslee added. “The president is asking people ‘please ignore Dr. Fauci, Dr. Birx, please ignore my own guidelines I set forth.’ “
Trump has repeatedly said in his daily briefings he doesn’t believe protests against stay-at-home orders are putting people at risk of spreading or getting COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
The president repeated those statements in his briefing Saturday.
The two officials have steadily upped the ante in their war of words. Inslee on Friday stated that Trump’s “unhinged rantings and calls for people to ‘liberate’ states could also lead to violence. We’ve seen it before.”
On Sunday, on “This Week” Inslee said he hopes there can be “restoration of leadership in the White House.” The exchange came before some Washingtonians planned to gather in Olympia and elsewhere to “defend liberty,” demonstrate the right to assemble and gather signatures for petitions that defend the Second Amendment and repeal the state’s new comprehensive sex education bill.
While Trump and some states are advocating a quick reopening of the country, Inslee is counseling caution.
He has encouraged people in Washington — the first COVID-19 epicenter in the country — to continue to observe his order to stay home, to stay healthy.
Washington tribes enacted shelter in place orders even sooner than the governor, with four tribes, the Hoh, Quileute, Quinault and Makah also closing their reservations to outsiders.
Inslee told Stephanopoulos he understands the hardship of the stay-at-home order as time stretches on.
“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,” Inslee said. “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.”
“It’s not safe yet to lift precautions,” Inslee said. “We still haven’t gotten the curve going down, we’re still plateaued. 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.”
It may be possible to begin opening some parts of Washington state’s economy in the coming weeks — but it won’t be all at once, Inslee said.
“This isn’t a light switch,” Inslee said. He has likened the more likely pace of a return to normalcy to turning a dial … slowly.
Inslee also countered Trump on the safety of vote-by-mail elections. Trump has said such balloting is subject to fraud but Inslee called the state’s vote-by-mail system “tremendous work for 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.”
“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. It should be a hope.”