Republican leader and University of Michigan (UM) regent Ronald Weiser drew the ire of UM community members over his refusal to denounce President Donald Trump in the aftermath of the assault on the US Capitol.
While Weiser described the recent event as “unacceptable” and “abhorrent,” he did not specifically condemn Trump for his involvement in the event, unlike fellow Republican leaders.
Let me be clear, the events in our nation's Capital this week were both incredibly tragic and wrong. People were misled. And that resulted in death and destruction. That is unacceptable and abhorrent.
— Ron Weiser (@RonaldWeiser) January 9, 2021
More than 4,000 people signed an online petition demanding Weiser resign or for the UM Board of Regents to condemn and recall him. In the petition, the incoming Michigan GOP party chair is accused of standing by the poisonous rhetoric and instigation of violence by the incumbent US president.
“Politicians and community leaders swiftly condemned the events, and more importantly, condemned Donald Trump and his enablers for directly inciting the violence. But on the morning of Thursday, January 7, University of Michigan Regent Ron Weiser chose instead to stand by the consciously destructive actions of President Trump,” the petition stated.
In his defense, Weiser told Bridge Michigan that he was unsure if Trump was to blame for the deadly mob. He was completely unaware of the chaos within the US Capitol and the fact that members of Congress had to be evacuated, as he was watching a UM basketball game hours later.
“I watched Michigan destroy Minnesota in basketball, and that kind of contest is something that I strongly support,” Weiser said. For those behind the petition, this was evidence that the UM regent is continuing to defend Trump despite the incident and that he is “complicit in Wednesday’s historic and horrifying events.”
UM faculty members also signed an open letter demanding Weiser step down. The letter acknowledged that the direct participation of the Michigan GOP may be unclear, but his role as the incoming chair of this party cannot coincide with his duty as UM regent.
But the real estate mogul and former US ambassador to Slovakia will not budge. “I am definitely not resigning. I condemned the violence and assault on our democracy once I was aware of what had happened. I spent most of that ugly day in a dental chair having oral surgery. I am guilty of not watching news on TV or watching or using social media. Nothing more,” Weiser told The Detroit News.