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News >  WA Government

Trump calls Inslee ‘a snake,’ disputes administration’s satisfaction with coronavirus control

UPDATED: Fri., March 6, 2020

Vice President Mike Pence bumps elbows with Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, left, during a news conference, Thursday, March 5, 2020, at Camp Murray in Washington state. On Friday, President Donald Trump said he advised Pence not to compliment Washington’s on its response to the virus, and called Inslee “a snake.” (Ted S. Warren / AP)
Vice President Mike Pence bumps elbows with Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, left, during a news conference, Thursday, March 5, 2020, at Camp Murray in Washington state. On Friday, President Donald Trump said he advised Pence not to compliment Washington’s on its response to the virus, and called Inslee “a snake.” (Ted S. Warren / AP)

President Donald Trump on Friday did not share the same praise of Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and the state’s response to the coronavirus outbreak as his vice president.

In a news conference conducted Friday as Trump toured the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to monitor the spread of the virus, the president called Inslee “a snake” and said he didn’t direct Vice President Mike Pence to be complimentary of Inslee or Inslee’s response to the public health emergency.

“I said, ‘If you’re nice to him, he will take advantage,’ and I would have said no,” Trump told reporters. “Let me just tell you, we have a lot of problems with the governor and the governor of Washington, that’s where you have many of your problems, OK? So Mike may be happy with him, but I’m not.”

Inslee routinely attacked Trump for policy positions during the governor’s bid for the presidency, and in February 2018 admonished the president in the White House for his use of social media.

Inslee quickly responded on Twitter, noting the distance between Trump and Pence on Washington’s work to control the spread of the virus.

“My single focus is and will continue to be the health and well-being of Washingtonians,” Inslee tweeted. “It’s important for leaders to speak with one voice. I just wish the president and vice president could get on the same page.

“We appreciate the vice president’s visit and our teams are working well together.”

Several Washington lawmakers criticized Trump’s comments Friday.

“Name-calling is the last thing people in my state need right now, @realDonaldTrump,” Sen. Patty Murray, who’s been critical of the federal government’s response to the outbreak, tweeted Friday. “We should all be working together to find solutions, respond to the coronavirus, and focus on keeping Americans safe and healthy.”

Chris Vance, the former chairman of the Washington Republican Party and a GOP lawmaker in Olympia, more forcefully criticized the president’s critique of Inslee. Vance left the party after Trump’s election, arguing it was capitulating to Trump’s control.

“Jay Inslee and I started out together years ago in the State House. We disagree on a lot but he is ten times the human being Donald Trump is,” Vance tweeted.

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