A Day After Praising Georgia Gov Brian Kemp, Trump Says He Disagrees With Plan to Reopen State

“I told him I totally disagree,” Trump says the day after declaring that Kemp “knows what he’s doing”

Last Updated: April 22, 2020 @ 5:51 PM

Just a day after publicly supporting Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp’s plan to reopen several types of nonessential businesses beginning April 24, Donald Trump backtracked, saying Wednesday afternoon that he disagrees with the plan and that he has told Kemp this personally.

“I told the governor of Georgia, Brian Kemp, that I disagree strongly with his decision to open certain facilities,” Trump said at a press conference on Wednesday. “I happen to disagree with him only in time, in timing. Do I agree with him? No. But I respect him, and I will let him make his decision. Would I do that? No. I’d keep them a little longer. I want to protect people’s lives. But I’m going to let him make his decision. But I told him I totally disagree.”

Trump also said he’d rather wait until a state gets into phase two, referring to the three-phase set of guidelines that the White House released last week for states looking to reopen their economies.

These latest statements appear to be a total reversal from Tuesday, when Trump, asked about Kemp’s plan during the day’s White House coronavirus briefing, said: “He’s a very capable man. He knows what he’s doing. He’s done a very good job as governor in Georgia.”

On Monday, Kemp tweeted that gyms, fitness centers, bowling alleys, body art studios, barbershops, hair salons and nail salons could reopen on Friday with “minimum basic operations.” The governor also said movie theaters, private social clubs and restaurants could reopen on April 27 with sanitation and social distancing measures.

It’s unclear what prompted Trump to distance himself from Kemp’s announcement so soon after supporting it. Though notably, rather than drawing widespread praise, the plan garnered swift pushback from political leaders throughout the state, and harsh criticism nationally. Public health officials in particular warned that reopening these businesses so soon could spark an increase in the spread of coronavirus.

“If I were advising the governor, I would tell him he should be careful, and I would advise him not to just turn the switch on and go,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on Wednesday. “There is a danger of a rebound.”

In addition, Polling conducted after Kemp’s announcement shows that Americans still overwhelmingly support measures to stem the spread of COVID-19, and oppose efforts such as Kemp’s to reopen before the pandemic is under control. Only 12% of participants say measures have gone too far, while a full 26% say they haven’t gone far enough.

Shortly after Trump’s comments, Kemp said in a statement posted on Twitter: “Earlier today, I discussed Georgia’s plan to reopen shuttered businesses for limited operations with @POTUS. I appreciate his bold leadership and insight during these difficult times and the framework provided by the White House to safely move states forward.”

“Our next measured step is driven by data and guided by state public health officials. We will continue with this approach to protect the lives – and livelihoods – of all Georgians,” Kemp continued. “just like the thousands of businesses currently operating throughout Georgia, I am confident that business owners who decide to reopen will adhere to Minimum Basic Operations, which prioritize the health and well-being of employees and customers.”