Michigan AG: Trump sent ‘the worst possible message’ by going maskless on camera during tour of Ford plant

Michigan’s attorney general slammed President Donald Trump for “conveying the worst possible message” by refusing to wear a mask in front of cameras during his visit Thursday to a Ford manufacturing plant.

“I am ashamed to have him be President of the United States of America,” Dana Nessel, a Democrat, told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on “The Situation Room” Thursday.

“And I hope that the voters of Michigan will remember this when November comes, that he didn’t care enough about their safety, he didn’t care about their welfare, he didn’t respect them enough just to engage in the very simple task, the painless task, the easy task of wearing a mask when he was provided one.”

“And so I hope that we’ll have a new president soon enough who does respect people more than this president does,” she continued.

Her comments come after the President toured and delivered remarks at the Ford plant in Ypsilanti, which has been repurposed to produce ventilators and personal protective equipment.

While at the plant, Trump said he did wear a mask during the tour, but “didn’t want to give the press the pleasure of seeing it” when in front of the cameras. He showed off a navy blue mask with the presidential seal on it. An individual from Ford confirmed to reporters that the President had worn the mask.

So far, Trump has resisted covering his face in public or being seen wearing a mask, despite the federal government’s recommendations to do so in public during the coronavirus pandemic. Speaking to reporters as he departed the White House on Thursday, Trump said “I don’t know, we’re going to look at it” when asked if he would wear a mask.

Earlier Thursday, Nessel had told CNN’s Alisyn Camerota if Trump “fails to wear a mask, he’s going to be asked not to return to any unclosed facilities inside our state.” Asked if that was now the case after his tour, she said pointedly, “I will say speaking on behalf of my department and my office, that’s right. That’s exactly right.

“Today’s events were extremely disappointing and yet totally predictable,” Nessel told Blitzer.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, recently issued an executive order that includes requiring manufacturing facilities to suspend all tours. Nessel noted that Michigan waived that requirement for Trump’s visit to the Ford plant.

Another executive order Whitmer signed this week requires anyone who is medically able to wear a facial covering when in an enclosed space.

As a result, Nessel has threatened legal action against “any company or any facility that allows him inside those facilities and puts our workers at risk.” Following Trump’s tour, she said, “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.

“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.”

On Tuesday, Ford said it had shared its safety policies with the White House — including that everyone wear a mask “in all facilities, at all times” — but added that “the White House has its own safety and testing policies in place and will make its own determination.”

Asked Tuesday if he would wear a mask on his visit, Trump had said, “I don’t know. I haven’t even thought of it.”

“It depends. In certain areas I would, in certain areas I don’t. But I will certainly look at it,” he added.

Trump recently went maskless during his tour last week of a medical equipment distribution facility in Pennsylvania and his tour earlier this month of a Honeywell plant in Arizona that produces N95 respirator masks.

CNN’s Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.