Michigan Lt. Gov. on virus response: 'Trump is a liar who has killed people’

Michigan officials condemn Trump’s response to coronavirus pandemic, more

Garlin Gilchrist II at his ceremony to be sworn in as lieutenant governor on Jan. 1, 2019. (WDIV)

Michigan’s Lieutenant Governor said that the U.S. President’s response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic “has killed people” during a live virtual event on Saturday.

The Michigan-focused virtual event, titled “Fighting for Justice in Michigan," was largely focused on convincing voters from the progressive wing of the Democratic party to vote in the General Election this November.

During his remarks Saturday, Michigan’s Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist II condemned President Donald Trump and his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Donald Trump is a liar who has killed people, straight up,” Gilchrist said.

The lieutenant governor said he has lost 23 people in his life to COVID-19 this year.

Event speakers, including Rep. Rashida Tlaib (MI-13) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (VT), discussed the pandemic, climate change, policing reform, raising the minimum wage and other economic causes.

Nearly 60,000 people tuned into the event on Saturday, though some comments suggested that not all viewers were from Michigan.

Speakers specifically called on viewers to vote in the upcoming presidential election, whether by mail or in person.

“We cannot afford another four years of this man at the helm," Gilchrist said of President Trump during his remarks. “There are literally millions of lives at stake.”

During her portion of the livestream, Rep. Tlaib implored the voters who sent her to Congress to vote this November -- including the roughly 40,000 voters who voted for Bernie Sanders in the 2016 Michigan Primary Election but didn’t vote for the eventual Democratic nominee, Sec. Hillary Clinton in the 2016 General Election.

“I know you exist -- you’re needed,” Tlaib said. “Your community needs you right now.”

Tlaib has been vocal about her lack of support for Democratic presidential nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden.

As one of the most liberal members of Congress, Tlaib endorsed Sanders for president in 2019 while he was still in the running. Tlaib also decried the Democratic party’s platform during the Democratic National Convention, citing a lack of policy proposals on universal healthcare coverage.

Sanders won the Michigan Primary in 2016, but lost to Biden by double digits in 2020.

During her remarks Saturday, Congresswoman Tlaib highlighted issues facing Black communities in her district in Detroit and across the nation, including the impact of poverty and the pandemic. Tlaib accused the Trump Administration of neglecting the minority neighborhoods, saying the administration shows a “lack of urgency” when it comes to helping residents of Detroit and Wayne County.

Trump frequently claims that he has done more for Black Americans than any president since President Abraham Lincoln.

Related: Fact-checking the presidential candidates' comments on the coronavirus pandemic

In response to the comment made by Gilchrist, the Michigan campaign for Trump said the president has acted aggressively in response to the pandemic.

“While Joe Biden and his media allies' relentless attacks continue, the fact remains: President Trump not only aggressively responded to the coronavirus pandemic, he expressed calm, decisive leadership during a time of unprecedented crisis,” said Trump Victory Spokesperson Chris Gustafson.

Gustafson instead accused Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of potentially killing more Michiganders with her response plan for nursing homes with coronavirus.

Whitmer has previously received backlash for her nursing home plan amid the pandemic -- though a recent report has claimed that her plan was “logical” and “appropriate.”

According to a recent WDIV/Detroit News poll, Biden is leading Trump by 5 points among Michigan voters just 50 days before the election on Nov. 3.

Related: Group tops 400K signatures to repeal Michigan Gov. Whitmer’s virus powers