President Donald Trump declined to wear a protective face mask in public Thursday while visiting a Ford manufacturing plant in Michigan, despite the fact that the company’s representatives had asked him to shield his face. It is also required by an executive order from the state’s Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
All Ford Motor Co. executives wore masks during the tour, but Trump said it was “not necessary here,” and then claimed he had worn a mask in another part of the plant, “where they preferred it,” but refused to do so in front of the reporters.
“I didn’t want to give the press the pleasure of seeing it,” Trump said according to the Greenwich Times.
He then held a speech before the factory workers and the press, saying that “a permanent lockdown is not a strategy for a healthy state or a healthy country. Our country wasn’t meant to be shut down.”
After the president’s visit, Ford released a statement saying that executive chairman William Clay Ford Jr. had asked Trump to wear a mask, which he agreed to do while viewing an exhibit of historical cars, but had then removed it.
Before the tour, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, a Democrat, had issued an open letter for Trump. “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 this State – by wearing a facial covering,” it read. “It is not just the policy of Ford, by virtue of the Governor’s Executive Orders. It is currently the law of this State.”
After Trump’s visit, Nessel said on CNN that the president is no longer welcome in the state after defying Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s executive order that requires a mask in an enclosed public space: “He is a petulant child who refuses to follow the rules. This is not a joke.”
The president has repeatedly refused to wear a face mask in public. Jack Young, the Democratic mayor of Baltimore, on May 21st asked Trump to skip a planned Memorial Day appearance at Fort McHenry monument because of that.