Trump Says Virginia’s Democratic Governor “Should Be Under Siege”

“They want to take their guns away.”

Alex Brandon/AP

The coronavirus is a rapidly developing news story, so some of the content in this article might be out of date. Check out our most recent coverage of the coronavirus crisis, and subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.

A day that began with President Trump tweeting “LIBERATE MICHIGAN!,” “LIBERATE MINNESOTA!,” and “LIBERATE VIRGINIA” ended with him saying outright in his daily coronavirus press briefing that Virginia’s Democratic governor “should be under siege.”

Journalistic custom requires us to pretend that this is not a call to insurrection but rather an unfortunate case of “rank partisanship.” But Trump on Friday evening left little doubt what he was getting at in the tweets. They were directed at three Democratic governors in three states that are battlegrounds only in the metaphorical sense, for now. He said that certain lockdown measures were “too tough.” But when pressed on his “LIBERATE” tweets he cited gun control legislation recently signed by Gov. Ralph Northam. As we’ve reported, those controls were long expected. In fact, they helped turn the state legislature blue in the NRA’s backyard.

“They want to take their guns away,” Trump explained of his tweets. “That’s the Second Amendment. That’s Virginia. You have a governor—I guess he should be under siege. He seems not to be. If he were a Republican, he would be under siege. But he seems to have escaped something that is really bad…So when you talk about ‘liberate’ or ‘liberation,’ you can certainly look at Virginia.”

It appears Trump was moved to write his “LIBERATE” tweets by a Fox News segment about protests outside the office of Minnesota’s governor. These were part of a string of recent demonstrations against state social-distancing measures. On Wednesday, fashy protesters with at least one Confederate flag blocked the streets outside Michigan’s state Capitol, chanting “Lock her up!” in reference to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

Asked about these protests, the president dismissed concerns that they might be creating risks of disease transmission. “These are people expressing their views,” Trump said, as if viruses observed the First Amendment. “They seem to be very responsible people to me. But they’ve been treated a little bit rough.”

Here, then, were the marching orders from Friday’s press briefing: be nice to the people defying a rule to help us all not die from the plague; lay siege to the governor of Virginia. 

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate