Trump admits going maskless at Michigan Ford plant to deny the press 'the pleasure of seeing it'
The president's act was slammed by Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer and AG Dana Nessel
Donald Trump admitted he made the controversial decision to not wear a face mask while touring a Michigan Ford plant because he wanted to spite journalists.
The president visited the Ford Rawsonville Components Plant in Ypsilanti, which has been one of the facilities repurposed to make ventilators and PPE amidst the coronavirus pandemic under the Defense Production Act, on Thursday, May 21, but did not wear a mask.
This was despite the plant having strict rules that employees must wear a mask, as well as Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel urging him to follow the facility's protocol, and Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer's executive orders to have face protection.
"While my Department will not act to prevent you from touring Ford's plant, I ask that while you are on tour you respect the great efforts of the men and women at Ford -- and across the state -- by wearing facial covering," Nessel had written in a letter addressed to the White House. "It is not just the policy of Ford, by the virtue of the Governor's Executive Orders, it is currently the law of this state."
When asked about his decision to flaunt the rules, Trump, surrounded by Ford executives who were all wearing face masks, said, "I had one on before. I wore one in the back area but I didn't want to give the press the pleasure of seeing it."
"In this area, it's not necessary here, everybody's been tested and I've been tested. In fact, I was tested this morning, so it's not necessary," he insisted, according to Sky News.
When it was pointed out to him that there were people right next to him wearing the masks, he shrugged and said, "Well, that's their choice. I was given a choice and I had one on in an area where they preferred it. So I put one on and it was very nice but they said they were not necessary here."
Bill Ford, the Ford executive chairman, said he had encouraged President Trump to wear a mask when he arrived" at the plant but added that it ultimately was "up to him." The company later issued a statement saying the president had worn a mask during a private viewing of three two-seater Ford GT sports cars.
But Nessel wasn't too pleased with the explanation and told CNN she had sent a warning to Ford for allowing Trump to refuse to wear a mask in front of cameras.
"I think that we're going to have to have a very serious conversation with Ford in the event that they permitted the President to be in publicly enclosed places in violation of the order," she said. "They knew exactly what the order was and if they permitted anyone, even the President of the United States, to defy that order, I think it has serious health consequences potentially to their workers."
She said Trump was a "petulant child who refuses to follow the rules" and that the situation was "not a joke." She added that his behavior was "extremely disappointing," especially considering how thousands had died from COVID-19 in Michigan.
The state has seen 53,510 confirmed cases of coronavirus, with 5139 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins tracker.