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

“They want to take their guns away.”

Alex Brandon/AP

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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. 

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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