In late February, Trump bungled by putting evangelical Christian fascist/science denier Pence in charge of one of two COVID-19 task forces.
He believes faith alone will solve the problem so Washington needn’t try.
As Indiana governor, he slashed public health spending and presided over the state’s worst HIV/AIDS outbreak.
He believes “smoking doesn’t kill” or cause lung cancer, and evolution is fiction.
Putting him in charge of dealing with a growing national health emergency is like appointing an arsonist as fire chief or serial killer as police chief.
Compounding his above error, DJT last week put son-in-law Jared Kushner in charge of a second COVID-19 task force.
After driving Trump’s no-peace/deal of the century peace plan over a cliff to oblivion and failing at other White House assignments, Kushner substitutes for capable leadership and expertise that’s needed to guide the nation through a worsening public and personal health crisis.
According to Politico, Kushner set up shop at FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency), established “a new center of power,” and is directing COVID-19 “strategy and planning.”
His private sector approach and science-denier Pence’s COVID-19 task force operate independently of each other instead of competent central leadership in charge of a national effort to combat the virus, provide healthcare staff with necessary protective gear, establish nationwide mass testing, and assure all infected Americans are treated cost-free.
Based on interviews with 11 people involved with Kushner, his decision-making “created concern among some health agency officials,” Politico reported.
Kushner’s familial relationship to Trump further complicates things. Married to his daughter Ivanka made him a favored son-in-law, his unacceptable shortcomings overlooked.
He adopted an “ad-hoc attitude toward beating back the coronavirus (crisis), heedless of normal government boundaries and, to some extent, conflicts of interest,” Politico reported, adding:
His approach “led to new quandaries, according to health officials and even some of the outside advisers working with” him.
“Projects are so decentralized that one team often has little idea what others are doing—outside of that they all report up to” him.
It’s “making it difficult for the group to stay focused” on what the mission is supposed to be all about and accomplishing it effectively without delay.
There’s little vetting of business interests wanting a piece of the pie being doled out, raising questions about choosing favorites over who’s most able to deal with aspects of the crisis.
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) warned that Kushner’s “shadow task force appears to be violating both the Presidential Records Act (PRA) and Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) by using private email accounts with no assurance their communications are being preserved and by meeting in secret,” adding, “The failure of the White House to comply with any of the PRA and FACA requirements leaves the public in the dark about the work the shadow task force has done and the influence of private industries on the administration’s response to the coronavirus” crisis.
CREW executive director Noah Bookbinder stressed that at a time now, “we need records and transparency…”
As the public health crisis worsens, along with mass layoffs and loss of income for millions of households, “the public needs to understand who in the White House is making policy decisions, who from private industry is influencing those decisions, and how decisions to address this (crisis) are being made.”
The US Public Records Act requires the White House and related staff like Kushner’s task force to maintain and preserve documents related to initiatives undertaken.
He’s also required to comply with FACA provisions, applying to an effort like his within the executive branch of government.
According to CREW, he breached the law by operating in secret, including by failing to fully disclose the private interests of individuals on his task force—clearly not involved with altruism in mind if connected to the Trump family.
“There is no excuse for hiding information from the public that affects their lives in an extraordinary time,” Bookbinder stressed.
For weeks after COVID-19 outbreaks occurred, Trump was in denial. Since admitting that a public and personal health crisis exists, he mismanaged the response by poor execution and secrecy so the public doesn’t know what’s going on, and most day-to-day help is coming from state and local authorities, not Washington.
In response to NY Gov. Cuomo, saying he’s 30,000 ventilators short of state needs, Kushner called him an alarmist, adding “New York doesn’t need all the ventilators.”
Showing disdain for state authorities and growing numbers of infected Americans, he played down the notion of Washington’s responsibility to come to the rescue, saying, “The notion of the federal stockpile was it’s supposed to be our stockpile. It’s not supposed to be state stockpiles that they then use.”
The federal stockpile is for the people of the country in need. It’s not for Kushner, Pence or Trump to decide who’s helped and who’s left out for political and profit reasons.
Kushner showed profound ignorance and indifference to public need, saying, “What you have all over the country is a lot of people are asking for things that they don’t necessarily need at the moment.”
Vanity Fair slammed Trump’s cheerleading press conferences, calling them political “rally substitutes,” adding that they’re “boastful [and] contentious, featuring Trump as pitchman, selling the [supposedly] great job [his regime is] doing and the [supposedly] beautiful future after the novel coronavirus had magically flowed through, while compulsively blame-shifting to China, the media, and governors, anyone but” him and others around him.
On Friday, WaPo slammed how Trump is handling the public and personal health crisis, worsening things by putting his “ignorant son-in-law [in charge of] running [it].”
Trump, others surrounding him, including Kushner, prioritize business profits for themselves and favorites above all else.
At a time of national health and economic crisis, ordinary Americans are largely on their own—no allies in the White House helping them, few in Congress.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at email@example.com. His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.” Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.