In a disturbing new series of tweets, President Trump on Friday urged Americans to “liberate” three U.S. states that are run by Democratic governors amid protests over coronavirus shutdowns. The three tweets took aim at Minnesota, Michigan, and Virginia. “LIBERATE VIRGINIA, and save your great 2nd Amendment. It is under siege!” one tweet read. Trump on Thursday refused to criticize protesters in some states, including Michigan, who are flouting stay-at-home orders and social-distancing guidelines amid the deadly pandemic. “I think they’re listening, I think they listen to me,” he said. “They seem to be protesters that like me and respect this opinion, and my opinion is the same as just about all of the governors.”
Trump has gone back and forth on who should have the ultimate authority to reopen state’s economies. On Monday, he claimed he has “total” power as president, while on Thursday he insisted governors would be able to “tailor [an] approach that meets the diverse circumstances of their own states”—the same day the U.S. deaths from COVID-19 hit a record 4,591 people.