Jeffrey D. Allred, KSL

Donald Trump Jr.: Mask mandates are a 'states' rights' issue

By Lisa Riley Roche, KSL | Posted - Jul. 11, 2020 at 8:59 a.m.

SALT LAKE CITY — Donald Trump Jr. said Friday the president believes it’s up to Gov. Gary Herbert and leaders of other states to make decisions about whether making face masks mandatory is the best way to keep from reverting back to previous restrictions on public activity as COVID-19 cases continue to increase.

“If there is a spike in Utah, then maybe that is for the governor to decide,” Trump Jr. told KSL in a Trump Victory conference call with reporters from around the country when asked about Herbert’s plea Thursday that Utahns either wear masks voluntarily or face a mandate or rolling back the state’s recent reopening.

President Donald Trump has “gone along with that and he’s gone along with that not just with Republican governors but with Democrat governors across the country. So I think we believe in those states’ rights. I believe that’s a big issue in Utah,” Trump Jr. said.

Utah reported yet another daily record Friday with 867 new COVID-19 cases — 145 more than the previous record of 722, which occurred just two days earlier on Wednesday.

The president’s son apparently did not address a portion of the question about concerns raised in Utah that Trump not wearing a mask is making it harder to get voluntary compliance. Part of his response was cut off by the call moderator and Trump’s campaign said they did not have a recording.

Herbert reportedly had asked Vice President Mike Pence for help promoting wearing masks last week during a regular call about COVID-19 between administration officials and governors.

ABC News reporter Katherine Faulders tweeted on June 29 that Herbert said, “As a responsible citizen if you care abt your neighbor if you love your neighbor you ought to show the respect necessary by wearing a mask...& not be shamed b/c somehow you think that’s an overreach of gov. & that’s where I think you & the POTUS can help us out.”

Faulders also tweeted that the Utah GOP governor told Pence “he recognized ‘some of the politics’ of mask wearing & how many are against the “heavy hand of the government saying you will do this,” but suggested to Pence it doesn’t have to be a ‘mandate,’ just recommendation from him & POTUS.”

Trump Jr. said his father is described as “a dictator, except that he’s let the states make these sort of decisions. So he trusts that those governors will make the right decisions with the information on the ground that they have to be able to lead accordingly.”

He was critical throughout the call of how the news media has portrayed the president.

“At this point, I’m not sure we’re ever going to get a fair shake as it relates to the responses or any of these things. But I think we do see that these things have been under control,” Trump Jr. said, adding “it will be interesting to see what the press tries to do” about what he termed “a states’ rights issue.”

He said he continues to be in quarantine after his girlfriend, Kimberly Guilfoyle, tested positive for COVID-19 after traveling to South Dakota for campaign events, although she is showing “zero symptoms.” He said he has tested negative for the virus.

Lisa Riley Roche

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