Atlanta Mayor Alleges Without Evidence Trump Behind Lawsuit Against Her

July 17, 2020

Atlanta mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms (D.) suggested Friday without proof that President Donald Trump ordered the Georgia governor to sue her over the city's coronavirus mask mandate.

"I don't think it's happenstance that this lawsuit came the day after Donald Trump visited Atlanta, and I pointed out that he was violating city law by not having on a mask at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport," she said on Today. She went on to say she "absolutely" believes the governor's lawsuit was brought at the bidding of the president.

Georgia governor Brian Kemp's (R.) lawsuit against Bottoms and the Atlanta city council challenges her city-wide mask mandate as "void and unenforceable" and also targets other coronavirus restrictions such as closing dining rooms. Kemp has urged Georgians to wear masks to help contain coronavirus but said he will not implement a statewide order. In a statement, he said he filed the suit on behalf of business owners and their employees.

Bottoms is on the shortlist of potential running mates for presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden. She previously said Trump broke the law during his Atlanta visit Wednesday when he arrived at the airport without a mask.

Bottoms, who is in quarantine after testing positive for COVID-19, hedged in a later interview on CBS This Morning when asked again if she thought Trump was behind Kemp's lawsuit.

"I can't speak to whatever conversations that they had, but I do know our governor is a Trump loyalist, and he seems to work very hard to please the president of the United States, and that is often at the expense of the people in our state," she said.

Kemp spokesman Cody Hall directed the Washington Free Beacon to the governor's statement when asked about Bottoms's accusation.

"I'll just note that our statement makes no reference to the president," Hall said.

Kemp filed the lawsuit a day after his Wednesday ban on mask mandates in Georgia cities. Atlanta, Augusta, and Savannah are among the major Georgia cities attempting to enforce such rules. Kemp's lawsuit argues local governments cannot implement more or less restrictive guidelines than those put in place by states.

"Mayor Bottoms's mask mandate cannot be enforced," the governor said at a Friday news conference. "But her decision to shutter businesses and undermine economic growth is devastating.... I refuse to sit back and watch as disastrous policies threaten the lives and livelihoods of our citizens."

The White House did not respond to a request for comment.