President Donald Trump’s team’s response to the Coronavirus crisis has been rocked by chaos — including, it seems, internally thanks to his son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner at least partially taking over the coordination of projects like the distribution of medical supplies, an issue on which he’s looped in Republican allies. Kushner has no public health experience prior to his role in the administration — he, like the Trumps, developed real estate — but he has been barging in on issues of public health policy, and reporter Robert Costa with The Washington Post said during a Morning Joe panel this week that his work has been sparking “confusion” about response elements as basic as the chain of command.
‘Jared Kushner is there and he’s really being a liaison to different donors, to different corporate allies of this administration, which has created confusion about the chain of command, about whether corporations should work through Jared or they should work through Vice President Pence and the task force.’
Some of Kushner’s stumbles have been public. At a recent press conference, which constituted a rare public appearance, Kushner derided the idea that states should approach the Strategic National Stockpile of medical supplies for help obtaining those supplies — but what on earth else is the stockpile there for if not the states’ usage in times of crisis like the present?
This is what the website for the federal stockpile said yesterday vs what it says today, after Kushner was caught lying about how states aren’t supposed to be using it. It was changed to say, “Many states have products stockpiled, as well.” https://t.co/kbNXiwaJbX pic.twitter.com/xAtPKIyHnA
— Laura Bassett (@LEBassett) April 3, 2020
Trump himself has backed up Kushner’s idea, commenting at one point:
‘We have a stockpile. It’s a federal stockpile. We can use that for states or we can use it for ourselves.’
Who on earth is the “ourselves”? The United States of America is just that — the United States of America! Is Trump referring to the Trump family’s personal usage of the stockpile? Does anybody really know?
TRUMP: "We have a stockpile. It's a federal stockpile. We can use that for states or we can use it for ourselves."
— Ryan Struyk (@ryanstruyk) April 3, 2020
During his Morning Joe appearance this week, reporter Robert Costa shined a light on some other aspects of the president’s chaotic Coronavirus response as well. He explained, for instance, that Trump trade adviser Peter Navarro — who is a controversial economist, not a medical doctor or anyone with a single shred of apparent actual public health experience — has been pushing the president towards the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine, which recently led to a separately reported tense argument between Navarro and Dr. Anthony Fauci at the White House.
Navarro has also been leading response efforts “when it comes to the Defense Production Act, nudging corporations, sometimes pushing corporations to do what the White House wants,” Costa explained.
The response rests on the president’s confidence in his hunches, the reporter added, which could obviously lead to some problems. Neither nepotism nor experience in real estate have any relevance for the development of a competent response to a public health emergency, but Costa explained:
‘Top officials say the president has confidence that’s not backed up by experience or data. This is an alarming situation for not only people in the White House but many governors. They say if the president keeps talking about hydroxychloroquine in a way that is encouraging people to go seek it out, you’re going to have a medical, chaotic situation in this country, where people are trying to get a drug that’s not truly proven as efficacious for treating coronavirus and COVID-19.’