Trump privately supported Gov. Brian Kemp's plan to reopen Georgia before publicly criticising the idea, igniting another feud between him and governors

AP/APA composite image of President Donald Trump and Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia.
  • President Donald Trump initially supported Gov. Brian Kemp’s plan to reopen Georgia before publicly criticising it a day later, two administration officials told the Associated Press.
  • Trump changed his stance on the plan after consulting health officials, the AP said.
  • Kemp is allowing businesses like gyms, tattoo parlors, and bowling alleys to reopen starting Friday.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

President Donald Trump threw Georgia’s Republican governor under the bus this week, saying he “strongly disagreed” and “wasn’t at all happy” with Brian Kemp’s plan to reopen certain businesses.

But two administration officials told the Associated Press that Trump was initially supportive of Kemp’s plan and even praised him on a phone call a day before the president started publicly disagreeing with him.

It’s the latest feud the president has started with one of his governors, a tactic reportedly being used in an attempt to shift blame for the coronavirus response and win reelection.

The sources, who spoke with the AP on the condition of anonymity, said Trump changed his stance about Georgia’s reopening after talking to health officials on his coronavirus task force, including Dr. Deborah Birx and Dr. Anthony Fauci.

GettyImages 1210725286Getty ImagesA bowling alley in Lawrenceville, Georgia, sitting empty during the statewide COVID-19 shutdown.

On Monday, Kemp was among the first governors to announce plans to reopen. Under Kemp’s plan, businesses like gyms, tattoo parlors, and bowling alleys are being allowed to reopen with certain restrictions starting Friday.

The sources told the AP that Trump spoke with Kemp more than once about the plan and that both Trump and Vice President Mike Pence made separate calls to Kemp on Tuesday to praise his performance.

But then Trump spoke with health officials who said Kemp was moving too fast, the AP reported.

After these talks, the president called Kemp and tried to get him to change his plan, but the governor refused, according to the officials.

Kemp suggested they continue their discussion on another call, but they didn’t reconnect before Trump started publicly criticising the plan later that same day, according to the AP.

“I told the governor of Georgia, Brian Kemp, that I disagree strongly with his decision to open certain facilities,” Trump said during Wednesday’s press briefing. “He knows what’s he’s doing.”

On Thursday, Trump elaborated that he was specifically unhappy with Kemp’s plan to let spas reopen. “I wasn’t happy with Brian Kemp – I wasn’t at all happy,” he said.

As of Thursday, Georgia recorded more than 21,800 coronavirus infections and 881 deaths.

Despite the president’s flip-flopping on the issue, his supporters in the state on Facebook have encouraged the end of quarantine measures, saying they’re willing to take a risk to help the economy, Business Insider’s Julie Gerstein reported.

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