“The thing that hit me like a punch to the chest was then all of a sudden he got up and said ‘Liberate Virginia, Liberate Michigan,’” Fauci said on a CNN special on Sunday. “And I said to myself, ‘Oh my goodness. What is going on here?’”
Fauci was referring to a series of Trump tweets in support of right-wing protests against measures meant to stop the spread of the virus, including measures recommended by his own administration.
“LIBERATE MINNESOTA!” “LIBERATE MICHIGAN!” “LIBERATE VIRGINIA,” Trump wrote in various messages in April, egging on the demonstrators.
“It shocked me because it was such a jolt to what we were trying to do,” Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious diseases expert, said.
After Trump’s tweets, anti-mask, anti-vaccine and anti-lockdown protesters were emboldened. Armed groups invaded the Michigan Capitol in late April. Later in the year, six members of a Michigan militia were arrested and accused of plotting to kill Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D), who was a frequent target of Trump barbs during the pandemic. One member has already pleaded guilty to conspiracy.
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