At D.C. meeting, Kansas governor thanks Trump administration for help with pandemic response

photo by: Associated Press

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly listens as President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting in the Cabinet Room of the White House, Wednesday, May 20, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Sitting alongside President Donald Trump in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly thanked the Trump administration for its assistance in aspects of the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Specifically, Kelly thanked the president for sending a “SWAT team” from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to help meatpacking plants in the state stay open after they became hot spots for the respiratory virus.

“I appreciate what your team has done for us as we have been working our way through this pandemic and the recovery,” Kelly said. “It really helped us set up the kind of system we needed to have to make sure those plants could stay in production.”

Kelly also thanked Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., for his help in bringing Kansas’ “cry for help” to Trump’s attention.

“(Kansas’) representatives and my representatives really worked well together,” Trump said. “Kansas is a terrific state, terrific people, hard workers, that’s for sure. Hard workers.”

The governor appeared with Trump Wednesday afternoon at the White House alongside Republican Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson. Trump said it had “been an honor” to work with both Kelly and Hutchinson during the COVID-19 crisis.

The president was cordial to both governors during the public portion of Wednesday’s meeting, which can be viewed on C-SPAN. The meeting devolved a bit, however, when members of the D.C. press corps began questioning Trump over other matters.

Trump spent much of the Q&A portion of the afternoon railing against the state of Michigan’s efforts to send applications for absentee ballots to all registered voters in the state, which, earlier in the day, he’d falsely claimed was illegal.

The president also falsely said that mail-in ballots empower “ballot harvesting” and voter fraud, a statement he also posited without evidence. Voter fraud as a whole is in reality a nearly nonexistent problem in the United States, and mail-in ballots produce only a negligibly higher rate of fraud than other voting systems.

Trump concluded the meeting by falsely claiming he had been named Michigan’s Man of the Year “five or six years” before running for president — a claim which local media outlets in Michigan have disproved numerous times. He also berated CNN reporter Kaitlan Collins for asking a question about a meeting regarding CDC Director Robert Redfield.

Kelly is scheduled to hold a press conference in Topeka on Thursday, the same day that the Kansas Legislature will return for its one-day adjournment session. Republican lawmakers will likely introduce a bill giving legislators new authority to oversee Kelly’s actions in handling the COVID-19 pandemic.


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