Trump says feds may sue Edenville Dam owner, Michigan reporter booted from rally

By: - September 10, 2020 9:07 pm

President Donald J. Trump waves Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2020, at Joint Base Andrews, Md., as he boards Air Force One to begin his trip to Florida. | Official White House Photo by Joyce N. Boghosian via Flickr Public Domain

President Donald Trump said at a rally in Freeland on Thursday evening that the federal government may sue the owner of the Edenville Dam after it failed earlier this year, causing catastrophic flooding in the Midland area.

“It’s a privately owned dam; I think we’re going to have to sue the ass off of the company that has it,” Trump said.

Attorney General Dana Nessel announced in June that the state of Michigan would sue Boyce Hydro, which owns the Edenville Dam and the Sanford Dam, which also failed in May, for “gross mismanagement” and negligence. The owner of Boyce Hydro, Lee Mueller, has been a vocal Trump supporter.

The last time Trump was in Michigan in May, he announced he had signed an emergency declaration for Midland due to the flooding.

Trump’s Thursday rally came just a day after taped interviews were released in which he admits he understood the severity of COVID-19 but misled the public about it for several months.

The rally drew thousands of attendees, many of whom were not wearing masks, and had little to no social distancing. 

Reporter Kathy Gray, who recently retired from the Detroit Free Press and now writes for the New York Times, wrote on Twitter that she had been kicked out of the rally for posting photos of maskless attendees.

Trump said at the rally that “it is what it is, and we’re not happy about it,” and predicted that a vaccine would be ready “very, very soon,” likely “before the end of the year.”

Trump falsely claimed that “you see how good we’re doing relative to other countries and other parts of the world.”

But the United States has significantly more cumulative cases than any other country, with more than 6.3 million as of Thursday, after it failed to avoid an initial outbreak and then mostly failed to recover. More than 190,000 people have died of COVID-19.

Trump used the rally to prop up Republican Senate nominee John James, who is running againstU.S. Sen. Gary Peters (D-Bloomfield Twp.).

“Your current senator, I don’t even know this guy. Nobody does,” Trump said. “Nobody knows him. He doesn’t do anything.”

James also spoke at the rally and called for the Republican Party to “broaden back to include everyone and recognizing that we have no need to be scared.”

“Both parties have failed Black people,” James said. “But we commonly point at Democrats for neglecting the Black vote, we need to use our thumbs for not even trying.”

Gary Peters’ campaign hit back in a statement, saying the Republicans offered no solutions.

“Michiganders know that Gary Peters is an effective, bipartisan leader who works across the aisle to deliver results for them,” the Peters campaign said. “And tonight, they heard nothing but more attacks, empty rhetoric and zero solutions as John James doubled down on his 2000% support for Trump that includes gutting protections for 1.7 million Michiganders with pre-existing conditions.”

Trump also attacked Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, saying that the state would be “doing even better if you had a governor who knew what the hell she was doing.”

Whitmer responded with two tweets, linking to a report that shows Michigan’s economy is among the states closest to being back to normal.  

A Detroit News/WDIV poll released this week showed that 61% of likely Michigan voters approve of her handling of the pandemic.

Trump implored his supporters to deliver a repeat of his surprise 2016 victory in Michigan, arguing that Democratic nominee Joe Biden is “the worst presidential candidate in the history of presidential politics.”

“Can you imagine if I lost to him? I’d have to say I lost to the worst candidate ever put up,” Trump said. “Don’t do that to me, Michigan.”

Biden addressed Trump’s rally in a tweet posted Thursday evening, saying that “Michiganders need a pandemic response – not a pep rally.”

Biden campaigned in the state Wednesday, where he argued that Trump was responsible for thousands of American deaths and lost jobs as a result of his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Donald Trump Jr. and former second lady Jill Biden are both scheduled to campaign in Michigan next week.

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

Andrew Roth
Andrew Roth

Andrew Roth is a regular contributor to the Michigan Advance. He has been covering Michigan policy and politics for three years across a number of publications and studies journalism at Michigan State University.