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NYT’s Haberman: Trump Advisers Know Stoking Lockdown Protests is ‘Probably Not Smart’ but ‘Politically Helpful’

New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman says President Donald Trump’s advisers are aware it’s “probably not smart” for public health to support anti-coronavirus lockdown protests, but they’re still trying to calculate if the political benefits outweigh the potential cost.

In her latest report for the Times, Haberman broke down Trump’s attempts to navigate the public health crisis, especially his promotion of swing-state protests against stay-at-home orders. Haberman noted that supporting the protests allows Trump to tap into his base’s anti-government discontent, though it contradicts his administration’s efforts to fight the coronavirus, and his advisers “are divided about the wisdom of encouraging the protests.”

From the article:

One adviser said privately that if someone were to be injured at the protests — or if anyone contracted the coronavirus at large events where people were not wearing masks — there would be potential political risk for the president.

But two other people close to the president, who asked for anonymity in order to speak candidly, said they thought the protests could be politically helpful to Mr. Trump, while acknowledging there might be public health risks.

When Haberman joined CNN on Monday to elaborate on her report, she said Trump is once again giving contradictory policy messages, while “encouraging people to violate statewide orders.”

“These are not by-choice issues from these governors. These are mandatory,” she continued, “So you have a president who is doing something that some of his advisers acknowledge is probably not smart public health policy, but they think is probably effective politics for him because it helps him with a certain group of supporters and downplays his own responsibility.”

As John Berman noted that that approach “might mean that it costs lives,” Haberman agreed “it’s very risky.”

One adviser I spoke to made the point if someone gets hurt in one of those protests — we should be clear, these protests have been small and scattershot and organized as opposed to authentic so far. We’ll see how durable they are. But if they remain, if someone gets hurt, if someone gets sick at one of these protests where a lot of people are not wearing masks, that raises the potential stakes for the president and some of his folks are aware of that.

Watch above, via CNN.

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