Trump says Democratic governor is 'like a dictator' for not reopening Maine over fears tourists will bring coronavirus

President says his top trade adviser is now the 'lobster king,' putting him in charge of battling Europe over fish tariffs

John T. Bennett
Washington Bureau Chief
Friday 05 June 2020 20:49 BST
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Maine's Democratic governor, Janet Mills, has resisted re-opening the state over fears tourists will bring coronavirus there this summer. Donald Trump said Friday that makes her "like a dictator," just days after his administration unleashed federal officers and military personnel on US citizens.

During a White House press conference then during a visit to Bangor, the president seemed flabbergasted that some states, including Maine, New York, New Jersey, California and others have not begun opening their economies amid the coronavirus outbreak.

All are overseen by Democratic state chiefs executive.

While speaking with GOP officials and fishing industry officials there in the afternoon, he zeroed in on Ms Mills.

"How does she do a thing like this? Destroying your state," the GOP president said. "How does she do a thing like this?"

"Tiffany likes Christmas," he said of the jewelry store chain. "You like these three months."

He was referring to June, July and August – huge months economically for the tourism-dependent state.

"She's like a dictator," he said, playing into right-wing narratives that the national lock down hindered Americans' freedoms.

It is difficult to overstate the importance of tourism to the state's economy.

That industry accounts for nearly 107,000 jobs there, which is about 16 per cent of the state's total employment, according to the Maine Office of Tourism.

Meantime, Mr Trump was there to talk about the state's fishing industry, which he portrayed as over-regulated and hamstrung by Obama administration regulations. He also said other countries and the European Union have "taken advantage" of US fishers, vowing to negotiate better deals to help them.

One, he claimed, would come via a phone call to Europe.

"I'm going to call them and we're going to put a tariff on their cars unless they change. We're going to charge an equivalent, plus if they don't drop their tariff on their fish," he said.

Mr Trump put Peter Navarro, his top trade adviser, in charge of working with the Europeans for the terms he desires. He did not describe those terms, however.

"Navarro is in charge of that. ... Watch how fast that tariff comes off," Mr Trump said. "Peter Navarro is going to be the 'lobster king' from now on."

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