Pritzker Confronts Trump On Conference Call And Accuses Him Of ‘Inflammatory’ Rhetoric

Gov. JB Pritzker accused Trump of using rhetoric that’s “making it worse,” referring to the protests spurred by George Floyd’s death.

Side by side photos of President Donald Trump and Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker
Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker confronted President Donald Trump on a conference call Monday morning, accusing him of "inflammatory" rhetoric in how he spoke about the death of George Floyd. AP Photo
Side by side photos of President Donald Trump and Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker
Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker confronted President Donald Trump on a conference call Monday morning, accusing him of "inflammatory" rhetoric in how he spoke about the death of George Floyd. AP Photo

Pritzker Confronts Trump On Conference Call And Accuses Him Of ‘Inflammatory’ Rhetoric

Gov. JB Pritzker accused Trump of using rhetoric that’s “making it worse,” referring to the protests spurred by George Floyd’s death.

Democratic Gov. JB Pritzker criticized President Donald Trump Monday morning about the White House’s response to the death of George Floyd and the ensuing demonstrations and looting around the country.

Speaking on a conference call between the president and governors, Pritzker challenged Trump head-on.

“I’ve been extraordinarily concerned about the rhetoric that’s been used by you. It’s been inflammatory,” Pritzker said, according to a transcript. “But we have to call for calm. We have to have police reform called for. We’ve called out our national guard and our state police, but the rhetoric that’s coming out of the White House is making it worse.”

“Okay well thank you very much, JB. I don’t like your rhetoric much, either, because I watched it with respect to the coronavirus, and I don’t like your rhetoric much either,” the president shot back. “I think you could’ve done a much better job, frankly. But that’s OK. And you know, we don’t agree with each other.”

“I’ve spoken about it at great length, at great length, and I will continue to speak about it,” Trump continued. “But I also have to speak about law and order. We need law and order in our country.”

Since his campaign for governor, Pritzker has been a frequent Trump critic, referring to the president as a racist on multiple occasions. Pritzker repeated that criticism last week when asked for his initial response to the death of George Floyd.

Below is the full transcript of the exchange between Pritzker and Trump on Monday morning’s call:

PRITZKER: Mr. President, can you hear me? This is Gov. Pritzker.

TRUMP: I can hear you.

PRITZKER: Thank you, you know, I wanted to say, Mr. President…

TRUMP: Are you on your cell phone? JB, are you on your cell phone?

PRITZKER: Can you hear me OK? Sorry, can you hear me OK, Mr. President. Thank you.

PRITZKER: I wanted to take this moment — and I can’t let it pass — to speak up and say that I’ve been extraordinarily concerned about the rhetoric that’s been used by you. It’s been inflammatory, and it’s not OK for that officer to choke George Floyd to death. But we have to call for calm. We have to have police reform called for. We’ve called out our national guard and our state police, but the rhetoric that’s coming out of the White House is making it worse. And I need to say that people are feeling real pain out there, and we’ve got to have national leadership in calling for calm and making sure that we’re addressing the concerns of the legitimate peaceful protesters. That will help us to bring order.

TRUMP: OK well thank you very much, JB. I don’t like your rhetoric much either because I watched it with respect to the coronavirus, and I don’t like your rhetoric much either. I think you could’ve done a much better job, frankly. But that’s OK. And you know, we don’t agree with each other.

PRITZKER: Mr. President, we’re the second…

TRUMP: I saw it, what happened, it was a disgrace. But I spoke about it probably as long as I did about Barack and himself, and those police officers, what they did, including the three of them, that stood there and watched, and they didn’t even participate in it. The whole world was disgraced by it — that’s just our country — and the whole world was watching. So I— someone can tell me I haven’t spoken about, I’ve spoken about it at great length, at great length, and I will continue to speak about it. But I also have to speak about law and order. We need law and order in our country. And if we don’t have law and order, we don’t have a country. So we need law and order. OK, who’s next?

Tony Arnold and Dave McKinney cover Illinois state politics and government for WBEZ. Follow them on Twitter @tonyjarnold and @davemckinney.