Illinois governor: Trump encouraging coronavirus protests is 'fomenting some violence'

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) is blasting President TrumpDonald TrumpOhio Republican who voted to impeach Trump says he won't seek reelection Youngkin breaks with Trump on whether Democrats will cheat in the Virginia governor's race Trump endorses challenger in Michigan AG race MORE’s apparent endorsement of public protests against social distancing measures, saying Tuesday that the president is “fomenting some violence.”

“I’m very disappointed with the rhetoric and messaging coming from the president,” Pritzker said in a livestream with The Washington Post, saying that officials in Illinois have been collaborating across party lines during the coronavirus pandemic.

“I have frequent conversations with the elected officials around my state who are not in my own party, and we all share the common goal of opening our economy and getting people back to school and back to normal as fast as we can, but with an overriding concern for people’s safety and health,” he added.

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“That doesn’t seem to be the message coming from the president when he tweets out ‘liberate Michigan’ or ‘liberate Minnesota’ or ‘liberate Virginia,’” Pritzker said, referring to tweets that Trump sent out last week as activists challenged stay-at-home orders in multiple state. “He’s fomenting protests and I hate to say, that is fomenting some violence, and I’m very concerned about what it might mean for the country if he keeps doing things like that.”

Asked to elaborate on what future consequences he believed such rhetoric could have, Pritzker said the encouragement by the president was a “political maneuver in the middle of a national emergency” that could eventually lead to violence. “You certainly are seeing that people are believing his rhetoric, even repeating the rhetoric that he had a month or so ago when he was calling this a hoax.”

Despite the protests, a Washington Post–University of Maryland poll released Tuesday found 65 percent of Americans do not believe it will be safe to resume social gatherings of 10 or more people until at least June. Another 21 percent said they believed it will be safe by the end of May, while 9 percent said it will be safe by the end of this month.