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Whitmer: Trump threat to withhold funds from Michigan 'scary' and 'unacceptable'

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) blasted President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden adds to vote margin over Trump after Milwaukee County recount Krebs says allegations of foreign interference in 2020 election 'farcical'  Republicans ready to become deficit hawks again under a President Biden MORE's threat to withhold federal funds from her state over its decision to mail absentee ballot applications to all of its registered voters, calling it “scary” and “unacceptable."

Whitmer said in an interview on CBS on Thursday morning that the move would be dangerous at a time when Michigan is grappling with a serious coronavirus outbreak and historic flooding after two dams failed in Midland, Mich.

“To have this kind of distraction is kind of ridiculous to be honest," she said of Trump's threat. "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."

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"My hope is that today, he will be in Michigan, he will see we are hardworking, 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,” she said, referring to the floods.

Trump will be visiting Michigan on Thursday to tour a Ford ventilator assembly plant and address the state’s efforts to combat the coronavirus, which has infected more than 53,000 people there.

The president lambasted Michigan on Wednesday over its efforts to send absentee ballot applications to all of its 7.7 million registered voters, a move he claimed was done “illegally.” Trump threatened to withhold funding if the state did not reverse course, suggesting without evidence that expanding mail-in voting would encourage voter fraud.

“Michigan sends absentee ballot applications to 7.7 million people ahead of Primaries and the General Election,” Trump tweeted. “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!” 

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Trump has frequently panned the idea of expanding mail-in voting, raising unsubstantiated claims that mail-in ballots are susceptible with fraud and are “corrupt.” Voting experts recognize that there are higher levels of voter fraud in mail-in voting than in-person voting, though overall cases of fraud remain rare. 

Whitmer said she spoke with Trump over the phone Wednesday and urged him to remain focused on helping Michigan deal with the one-two punch of the coronavirus and the flooding near Midland, which has been called a “500-year” event.

“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. This is what all of our focus should be on,” Whitmer said.