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Wisconsin governor tells Trump planned Kenosha visit ‘will only hinder our healing’

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers is asking President Donald Trump to back out of a visit to the city of Kenosha planned for Tuesday, saying in a letter on Sunday that Trump’s presence “will only hinder our healing.”

The letter from the Wisconsin Democrat comes as Trump is scheduled to travel to Kenosha, Wisconsin to meet with law enforcement officials in the city days after a Black man, Jacob Blake, was shot in the back seven times by a White police officer and paralyzed.

“I, along with other community leaders who have reached out, are concerned about what your presence will mean for Kenosha and our state,” Evers wrote in the two-page letter to Trump. “I am concerned your presence will only delay our work to overcome division and move forward together,” he added.

The White House confirmed that the president would travel to the Wisconsin city on Saturday evening after the president suggested that he would “probably” make the trip. Judd Deere, a White House spokesman, said no meeting between the president and Jacob Blake’s family had yet been confirmed. 

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Evers’ letter. 

Earlier on Sunday, Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes also criticized Trump’s planned trip, saying on CNN that the president’s remarks at the Republican National Convention last week suggested it would prove divisive. 

Blake, 29, was shot during an arrest Aug. 23 that was caught on tape and sparked protests against police violence. During demonstrations two days later, two protesters were fatally shot. Kyle Rittenhouse, a 17-year-old, has been arrested and charged with their murders. The Wisconsin Department of Justice is investigating Blake’s shooting. 

Ben Crump, an attorney for Blake’s family, said on CBS’s “Face The Nation” on Sunday morning that his clients had not yet been contacted by the White House, but that “we will see,” noting that Blake’s family was “very respectful of all elected officials.” The Blake family spoke with Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and his running mate Sen. Kamala Harris for about an hour, Crump said. 

Lara Trump, a campaign advisor and the wife of the president’s son Eric Trump, said on “Fox News Sunday” that President Trump had reached out to the Blake family, but noted that she was unsure if the two sides had yet been able to connect. 

The president’s visit to Wisconsin, a key swing state that he narrowly won in 2016, comes as the president trails former Vice President Biden in national surveys of November’s presidential contest. A CNBC/Change Research poll from earlier in August found Biden leading Trump narrowly in Wisconsin, 49-46, with a margin of error of plus or minus 1.4%. 

Trump has sought to gain the upper hand against Biden on issues of law and order, and has framed the widespread protests against police brutality in Portland, Oregon, Kenosha and other cities as illustrations of the weakness of local Democratic officials. 

During his Thursday address to the Republican National Convention, Trump warned that a Biden victory could unleash “violent anarchists, agitators and criminals.” 

Barnes, Wisconsin’s lieutenant governor, said on CNN Sunday that the president’s comments at the RNC created “animosity” and “division” and suggested that Trump’s visit to the city would not be helpful.

“I don’t know how, given any of the previous statements that the president made, that he intends to come here to be helpful. And we absolutely don’t need that right now,” said Barnes, who led the Wisconsin delegation at the Democratic National Convention, which took place the week before the RNC. 

Trump has said little about Blake’s shooting, though he said Friday that he was “looking into it very strongly” and that he had seen video of the arrest.  

“I’ll be getting reports, and I’ll certainly let you know pretty soon,” Trump said. “But, it was not a good sight. I didn’t like the sight of it, certainly.  And, I think most people would agree with that.”

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