'Nowhere to be found': Governors blast Trump after he tells them they are 'weak' on phone call




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\'Nowhere to be found\': Governors blast Trump after he tells them they are \'weak\' on phone call  

WASHINGTON - Governors including one Republican pushed back at President Donald Trump Monday after he told them on a phone call they are "weak" and need to use force to "dominate" riots that have erupted during protests over the death of George Floyd.

Democratic Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a frequent target of Trump, called the phone call "deeply disturbing," adding that instead of offering support or leadership to bring down the temperature at protests, Trump told governors to " 'put it down' or we would be 'overridden.' "

"The president repeatedly and viciously attacked governors, who are doing everything they can to keep the peace while fighting a once-in-a-generation global pandemic," Whitmer said in a statement. "The president's dangerous comments should be gravely concerning to all Americans, because they send a clear signal that this administration is determined to sow the seeds of hatred and division."

More: Whitmer: Trump 'determined to sow the seeds of hatred and division'

Minneapolis police officer Derrick Chauvin has been charged with third-degree murder in manslaughter in Floyd's death.

After a weekend of nationwide protests and riots, Trump went on an extended rant Monday morning in a conference call with governors of both parties, telling them that they need to arrest people and that "most of you are weak."

He accused "radicals" and "anarchists" of being behind the unrest, and he urged governors to crack down on them.

"You have to dominate," he said, according to audio of the meeting obtained by multiple media outlets. "If you don't dominate, you're wasting your time. They're going to run over you, you're going to look like a bunch of jerks. You have to dominate."

More: 'Most of you are weak': Trump rails at the nation's governors, urges crackdown on violence

Unlike some past controversial comments from Trump, at least one Republican governor joined the criticism. Gov. Charlie Baker, a moderate Republican from left-leaning Massachusetts who is typically reluctant to take aim at Trump, raised the remarks himself during a news conference.

"I heard what the president said today about 'dominating' and fighting," Baker said. "I know I should be surprised when I hear incendiary words like this from him, but I'm not. At so many times during these past several weeks, when the country needed compassion and leadership the most, it was simply nowhere to be found. Instead, we got bitterness, combativeness and self-interest.

"That's not what we need in Boston. It's not what we need right now in Massachusetts," Baker said, appearing to choke up. "And it's definitely not what we need right now across this great country of ours either."

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, a Democratic rival of Trump, raised concerns about Trump's remarks directly to the president on the phone call, according to a transcript from the New York Times.

Pritzker told Trump he's been "extraordinarily concerned by the rhetoric that's been used by you." He called it "inflammatory," adding that leaders must call for both calmness and police reform.

"We've called out our National Guard and our state police, but the rhetoric that's coming out of the White House is making it worse," Pritzker said. "And I need to say that people are feeling real pain out there. And we've got to have national leadership in calling for calm and making sure that we're addressing the concerns of the legitimate peaceful protesters. That will help us to bring order."

Trump quipped back: "OK, well thank you very much, J.B. I don't like your rhetoric very much either because I watched it with respect to the coronavirus and I don't like your rhetoric much either. I think you could have done a much better job, frankly."

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, a ontime Democratic presidential candidate, said on Twitter that Trump's remarks are "the rantings of an insecure man trying to look strong, after building his entire political career on racism and the lie of birtherism.

'He is - again - failing to address the underlying injustices facing black Americans," Inslee wrote. "It is not leadership."

Besides Baker, other Republicans governors did not appear to criticize Trump for his remarks, while some sought to explain the president's intentions.

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb, a Republican, did not address Trump's allegations directly, but said the president didn't want governors to "get caught watching the paint dry."

More: Here's what Gov. Eric Holcomb had to say about Trump calling governors 'weak'

Holcomb said the peaceful demonstrations were hijacked by those who want to create chaos and destruction.

"We have to make sure we are properly staged and positioned to meet this moment," Holcomb told reporters. "They are tracking, as we are tracking, a very organized effort, domestic terrorism in the extreme across the country, and no state or community is immune."

He added: "We have to be ready, and we are."

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms seemed to target Trump's comments Monday during a campaign roundtable talk that Democratic presumptive presidential nominee Joe Biden had with Democratic mayors. She was making the case that cities need more federal relief to shore up budget shortfalls amid the coronavirus crisis.

"To see the president of the United States say that he's going to send the military into our communities, but hasn't mentioned sending a single dime of support into our communities, speaks to where we are in America," Bottoms said.

Contributing: Chris Sikich of the Indianapolis Star and Paul Egan of the Detroit Free Press. Reach Joey Garrison on Twitter @joeygarrison.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: George Floyd: Governors blast Trump after he calls them weak on call

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