OLYMPIA — President Donald Trump Friday called Gov. Jay Inslee a “snake,” puncturing the feeling of bipartisanship in the wake of the vice president’s visit to Washington in response to the coronavirus outbreak.
Vice President Mike Pence flew to Washington on Thursday to meet with Inslee and Washington’s congressional delegation to discuss the response to the virus.
Thursday’s roundtable, news briefing and public statements featured praise by Pence, who thanked Inslee, health officials and others for their response to the outbreak. The governor, in return, was cordial and welcoming to Pence.
That good-spirited collaboration apparently proved too much for Trump, who on Friday toured the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention in Atlanta.
The president and his administration have come under fire repeatedly from Inslee, in public barbs, lawsuits and at least one in-person confrontation with Trump.
When asked Friday by a reporter about Pence’s visit to Washington , the president said he told Pence not to be nice to the governor.
“So I told Mike not to be complimentary to the governor, because that governor is a snake, Inslee,” Trump said. “And I said, ‘If you’re nice to him, he will take advantage.’ And I would have said no.”
“Let me just tell you, we have a lot of problems with the governor, the governor of Washington … we have many problems,” Trump added. “So Mike may be happy with him, but I am not.”
In a tweet Friday responding to the president’s remarks, Inslee wrote, “My single focus is and will continue to be the health and well-being of Washingtonians.”
“It’s important for leaders to speak with one voice,” the governor continued. “I just wish the president and vice president could get on the same page.”
“We appreciate the vice president’s visit and our teams are working well together,” Inslee added.
Later Friday, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan reacted to Trump’s name-calling and reports that Trump adviser Larry Kudlow said on a televised interview that Americans should avoid traveling to Seattle.
“The city of Seattle, King County, Washington State and public health officials are taking thoughtful and precautionary steps to stop the spread of the virus,” Durkan said. “We rely on our federal partners for the steadfast support every American deserves. This administration is name-calling and making inaccurate off-the-cuff comments – it’s simply irresponsible and has serious consequences for our residents and businesses.”