Advance Notice: Briefs

Gov. talks threats, concerns over Trump yanking funds during COVID-19

By: - May 26, 2020 11:02 am

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer gives a COVID-19 update at the state Capitol, March 26, 2020 | Gov. Whitmer photo

Known nationally by President Trump’s nickname, “the woman from Michigan,” Gov. Gretchen Whitmer gave her two cents on “Axios on HBO” on Monday about the way Trump has chosen to communicate with Michiganders. 

After adopting some of the strictest COVID-19 rules in the nation, Whitmer has been the subject of ridicule by the president and threats from Michiganders.

The interview on Monday had touched on multiple topics: the possibility of Whitmer being presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s running mate, Trump threatening to withhold federal funding from Michigan and the threats she’s been receiving.

Axios’ Alexi McCammond pressed Whitmer on the issue of the vice presidency as Whitmer is rumored to be on Biden’s shortlist for the job.

Whitmer, not giving anything away, said, “I’m not looking to leave Michigan,” but didn’t give a definite yes or no.

After Michigan mailed absentee ballot applications to Michiganders for the upcoming presidential election, Trump tweeted that he would be withholding funding from Michigan, one of the states hit hardest by COVID-19.

Whitmer hasn’t said much about the insults directed at her by the president or the right-wing protesters carrying signs calling her a “Tyrant Bitch” and carrying a doll of her on a noose.

“The worst night’s sleep that I’ve got in the last 10 weeks is when he [Trump] has attacked me on Twitter,” Whitmer told McCammond. “I don’t really care that it’s an attack on me, but I’m worried that it would, you know, feed into a decision not to help Michigan. And that’s all I’m asking for.”


In March, Trump instructed his point person on the pandemic, Vice President Mike Pence, not to take Whitmer’s calls for help while speaking at a press conference in which he did not use her name.

Whitmer told McCammond though she doesn’t think Trump will actually withhold funding, she thinks carefully about how she communicates with him, as to not endanger the welfare of Michiganders.

Trump has elected to call multiple female officeholders in Michigan by derogatory titles, including Attorney General Dana Nessel and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson.

Neither Nessel nor Benson have allowed false statements about them to slide, with Benson publically correcting Trump’s previous statement that the state sent the ballots themselves and not applications for absentee ballots.

Nessel, who has a reputation in Michigan politics for not pulling punches, criticized Trump on CNN after he said he didn’t constantly wear a mask during his recent visit to an Ypsilanti Ford plant as to not give reporters “the pleasure” of seeing him in a mask. There is currently a mask order in Michigan to wear a face mask in places of public instruction.

“He is a ridiculous person, and I am ashamed to have him be president of the United States of America,” Nessel said. “I hope that the voters of Michigan will remember this when November comes. That he didn’t care enough about their safety, he didn’t care about their welfare, he didn’t respect them enough just to engage in the very simple task, the painless task, the easy task of wearing a mask when he was provided one.”

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Anna Liz Nichols
Anna Liz Nichols

Anna Liz Nichols is a former Michigan Advance intern. She is a Michigan State University graduate who has reported for several publications, including MLive and Michigan State University’s award-winning student paper, the State News, where she covered the many tendrils of the Larry Nassar sexual abuse scandal.