Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer called President Donald Trump’s threat to with hold federal funding from her state ‘scary’ and ‘ridiculous’ after more than 10,000 residents were evacuated and two dams burst due to heavy flooding.
‘We’ve got to evacuate tens of thousands of people who are worried and scared. On top of this global pandemic. And to have this kind of distraction is just ridiculous to be honest. It’s – threatening to take money away from a state that is hurting as bad as we are right now is just scary. And I think something that is unacceptable,’ Whitmer told CBS’ ‘This Morning’ on Thursday ahead of the president’s visit to the state.
Trump will visit a Ford Motor Co plant in Ypsilanti, which has been recast to produce ventilators and personal protective equipment to combat the coronavirus. The company plans to produce 100,000 ventilators by July 4, working with GE Healthcare on the project. He will also hold a meeting with African-American leaders to discuss vulnerable populations affected by the disease.
Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer called President Donald Trump’s threat to with hold federal funding from her state ‘scary’
An aerial photo shows floodwaters from the Tittabawassee River in the downtown area of Midland, Michigan
An aerial photo made with a drone shows damage to a road and bridge after the Edenville dam was breached near Edenville
The flooded Tittabawassee River around the areas in Midland
The governor declared Midland County, the site of the breached dams, a disaster area after it was hit hard by heavy rain fall in recent days. It’s about two hours north of the Detroit area, where Trump will be.
Officials said the Tittabawassee River that flows through Midland has reached 35 feet, which is above the flood stage and one foot higher than the previous record level set in 1986. It’s expected to rise another three feet before cresting.
Whitmer, who’s being talked about as a running mate for presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden, said she hopes the president uses his time to focus on what is important.
‘My hope is that today he will be in Michigan, he will see we are hard working, good Americans, we need the support of our federal government as much as anybody else, if not more right now because of this added challenge. And that I’m hopeful that he comes away knowing that that’s what’s most important. No petty political stuff that he had going with the secretary of state yesterday. We’ve got to be focused on doing the right thing right now on behalf of the people,’ she said.
Whitmer wrote to Trump on Wednesday to ask for federal funds for Midland county.
She said she and Trump don’t plan to meet when he’s in the state Thursday afternoon.
‘We do not have plans to meet. I did speak with him yesterday on the phone. I made the case that, you know, we all have to be on the same page here. We’ve got to stop demonizing one another and really focus on the fact that the common enemy is the virus. And now it’s a natural disaster,’ she told CBS News.
It’s unclear if President Trump will wear a face mask when he tours the Rawsonville Components Plant. He has not been seen wearing one when he visited factories in Arizona and Pennsylvania over the past two weeks but he claimed he donned one for a few minutes backstage while at the Honeywell plant in Phoenix on May 5.
Ford has a policy that all visitors must wear personal protective equipment but the company said the White House has its own protective procedures and will make its own determinations about whether masks will be worn.
Trump arrives in the state after long-simmering feuds with Whitmer, who criticized his administration for not sending enough supplies to help combat the coronavirus. The president, in return, cheered on protesters who gathered outside the state capital in Lansing to demand Whitmer lift her stay-at-home order.
President Trump will be in Michigan on Thursday to visit a Ford Motor plant converted to make ventilators
President Trump on Wednesday threatened to with hold unspecified federal funds from Michigan after the secretary of state sent absentee ballot applications to all registered voters.
The state is crucial to the president’s re-election effort. He won it by less than one point in the 2016 election.
Trump declined to specify on Wednesday what laws he said Michigan was breaking when Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson mailed out the applications. Republicans have argued without proof that mail-in ballots increase voter fraud. Democrats claim Republicans are against it because it benefits voting blocs that tend to vote Democratic.
‘Mail-in ballots are a very dangerous thing they’re they’re subject of massive fraud,’ Trump said at an event at the White House with the governors of Kansas and Arkansas.
Trump didn’t get specific on what kind of federal funds might be with held from the state. ‘You’ll be finding out that we finding out very soon if it’s necessary,’ he said. ‘I don’t think it’s going to be necessary.’
Trump on Wednesday pointed out his administration is helping the state as it deals with the devastating floods.
‘We’ve sent the FEMA and the Army Corps of Engineers out, and they’re very good at dams, they’re probably better at that anybody you can think of, right? The Army Corps of Engineers have done a fantastic job,’ he said.
But that defense came after he issued his threat to the state.
‘Michigan sends absentee ballot applications to 7.7 million people ahead of Primaries and the General Election. This was done illegally and without authorization by a rogue Secretary of State. I will ask to hold up funding to Michigan if they want to go down this Voter Fraud path!,’ he wrote on Twitter Wednesday.
His tweet was a threat to use his executive power against states that don’t bend to his political will.
The Republican Party has launched a $20 million effort to battle mail-in voting as more states look at it as an option for November in order to cut down on crowding and lines at polling places during the coronavirus pandemic.
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Ryan Stadelmaier, 16, gives a piggyback ride to his sister Rachel Stadelmaier, 27, as they cross Walden Woods Drive while helping residents tend to their flooded homes in Midland
Officials are investigating why two dams in Michigan failed and caused historic flooding and forced thousands of residents to evacuate
Hunter Klich, 14, maneuvers a kayak down the middle of Walden Woods Drive in Midland as residents coped with flooding
A Michigan National Guard hands a pet to the owner after they were evacuated to an emergency shelter during the flooding along the Tittabawassee River
President Donald Trump threatened to with hold federal funds from Michigan in revenge for the state sending absentee ballot applications to all voters
‘By mailing applications we have ensured that no Michigander has to choose between their health and their right to vote,’ Benson (left) said. Her decision is expected to face legal challenges. Trump’s threat to with hold federal funds comes as Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (right) declared a state of emergency in parts of Michigan due to flooding
Trump’s tweet comes at a time when Michigan officials are dealing with two crises: the coronavirus pandemic and severe flooding due to the failure of two dams (Sanford Dam pictured)
Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said Tuesday all registered voters – there are 7.7 million of them – will receive applications for absentee ballots, meaning voters would still have to request an actual ballot to vote.
‘By mailing applications we have ensured that no Michigander has to choose between their health and their right to vote,’ Benson, a Democrat, said. Her decision is expected to face legal challenges.
And she tweeted a response to President Trump: ‘Hi! I also have a name, it’s Jocelyn Benson. And we sent applications, not ballots. Just like my GOP colleagues in Iowa, Georgia, Nebraska and West Virginia.’
Benson also noted the mail-in vote option is legal in Michigan.
‘Every Michigan citizen has a right to vote by mail. It’s a right that was enshrined in our state constitution by our voters in November of 2018. And so I have a responsibility, as the chief election officer for the state of Michigan, to ensure everyone knows how to exercise their right to vote and all the options available — available to them to ensure that happens,’ she told MSNBC on Wednesday.
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany dodged questions on what was illegal about Michigan’s sending out mail-in ballot applications.
‘Illegality and legality of it, that’s a question for the campaign,’ she said at her press briefing on Wednesday.
She noted the president’s tweets were meant to alert Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and OMB Chief Russell Vought ‘about his concerns with trillions of dollars going to these states and his noted concerns about a lot of fraud that is potentially at play when you have mass mail- in voting.’
The Trump campaign said Michigan law requires voters to request an absentee ballot application be mailed to them.
‘President Trump is correct. There is no statutory authority for the secretary of state in Michigan to send absentee ballot applications to all voters. Existing case law in Michigan supports that conclusion as well,’ a campaign spokesperson said.
Michigan stayed in president’s thoughts throughout Wednesday as the state popped up repeatedly in his tweet during the day, including a promise from him to help with the flooding.
‘My team is closely monitoring the flooding in Central Michigan – Stay SAFE and listen to local officials. Our brave First Responders are once again stepping up to serve their fellow citizens, THANK YOU!,’ he wrote.
He also argued Gov. Whitmer, a Democrat, should ease up on the state’s coronavirus lock down so people can help with the flooding.
‘We have sent our best Military & @FEMA Teams, already there. Governor must now ‘set you free’ to help. Will be with you soon!,’ Trump added.
Whitmer issued a stay-at-home order for the state until May 28 but she announced this week she will start easing up on it in parts of Michigan on Friday. Protesters have stormed the state capitol in Lansing to protest Whitmer’s stay-at-home order.
Many states, Michigan included, are feeling a budget crunch after the coronavirus shuttered businesses – causing a decline in state revenue while more money was needed to fight the disease.
Trump and Whitmer, a Democrat, have already feuded over the virus. Whitmer accused his administration of not doing enough to send medical supplies and protective equipment to states in need.
Source: dailymail US