President Donald Trump blasted Gov. Brian Kemp for a second consecutive day over his decision to allow shuttered businesses such as gyms and spas to reopen this week, saying repeatedly he "wasn't happy" with his Republican ally.
A day after saying he "totally" disagreed with Kemp's decision to let some close-contact businesses to reopen on Friday and restaurants to resume dine-in service, Trump gave the governor another tongue-lashing.
“I want the states to open much more than he does,” he said. “I didn’t like to see spas open, frankly, I didn’t like to see a lot of things happening. I wasn’t happy with it. I wasn’t happy with Brian Kemp. I wasn’t at all happy. I could have done something about it if I wanted to.”
The president said he considered an attempt to block Kemp’s order from going forward, but he said he and his federal health advisers decided to “watch it closely.” And he disputed accounts that he was initially supportive of Kemp’s measure.
>>More: 'We felt ready.' Some Georgians welcome rollback of virus restrictions
>>More: The Jolt: Race enters the pandemic picture in Atlanta
“I told him very distinctly ... ‘You do what you think is best.’ But you asked me if I’m happy about it, I’m not happy about it. And I’m not happy about Brian Kemp.”
Since announcing the plan on Monday, Kemp has called it a "measured" step even as many public health experts warn that the approach could trigger a new outbreak. Trump's top health advisers have repeatedly criticized Kemp's strategy.
The rebuke put Georgia Democrats in the unusual position of siding with Trump. House Minority Leader Bob Trammell said Thursday that Trump raised the same concerns that he highlighted in a letter Tuesday urging Kemp to slow his rollback.
“We agree with the president,” said Trammell. “The president said exactly what we said on Tuesday – it’s too much, too soon. It’s too fast. We need a gradual reopening.”
>>More: 'Too soon,' Trump says of Ga. plan to reopen economy; Kemp disagrees
>>More: Trump's coronavirus rift with Kemp puts Georgia Republicans in a tough spot
And Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, who has emerged as one of the most prominent Democratic critics of Kemp’s approach, said Thursday on MSNBC she was “very surprised to hear the president come down so hard on our governor – and even more surprised that I agreed with our president.”
In a series of tweets after Trump’s remarks on Wednesday, Kemp said he was “confident that business owners who decide to reopen” will adhere to a series of guidelines his administration established, including screening employees for symptoms of illness.
On social media Thursday night, Kemp said Georgia was “taking another measured step forward by opening shuttered businesses for limited operations. I know these hardworking Georgians will prioritize the safety of their employees and customers.”
About the Author