In Latest Briefing, Trump Does Everything He Can To Avoid Responsibility
April 4, 2020
In today’s briefing, Trump made one thing clear: he doesn’t want to be held responsible for his failed coronavirus response. Despite the fact that Trump failed to prepare and take decisive action early on, he continues to try to pass blame onto states while he spreads falsehoods and downplays the severity of this crisis.
FAILED TO LEAD:
Trump continued to try to shift responsibility onto states after his delayed response contributed to supply shortages across the country, and despite states begging for the government to lead in managing disbursements.
NBC News’s Josh Lederman: “Trump says the federal gov is ‘back-up’ to the states. The play is to shift responsibility for shortages from him to governors, while at the same time saying forcefully that DC — not the states — will determine how many supplies each state really needs”
CNN’s Daniel Dale: “Trump: ‘Remember…we’re a backup…We’re the greatest backup that ever existed for the states.’ (On acquisitions, governors have repeatedly urged him to have the federal government take a leading role so that states don’t have to fight it out with each other and the feds.)”
Trump blamed states for not building up stockpiles sooner and attacked them for making outsized requests for supplies, even though he initially downplayed the crisis and told them not to worry.
NBC News’s Kelly O’Donnell: “STATES TENSION ‘They should have been doing this work for a long time …many of their cupboards were bare’”
PBS’s Yamiche Alcindor: “President Trump confirms federal govt not meeting requests. ‘In some cases, we are telling governors, ‘We can’t go there because we don’t think you need it. We think some place else needs it.’ And, pretty much so far, we’ve been right about that. And, we will continue to do it.’”
DOWNPLAYED THE CRISIS:
After ignoring early warnings about the coming crisis for weeks, Trump defended states not implementing stay-at-home orders, saying they didn’t need to worry about getting ahead of the pandemic.
CNN’s Daniel Dale: “Asked if the key in this pandemic isn’t getting ahead of big numbers of cases, Trump says, ‘No, not in that case.’”
MORE FALSE CLAIMS:
Trump falsely claimed that he was using the Defense Production Act “very powerfully.” He still hasn’t utilized the full force of the federal government, leaving supply chains in disarray and forcing states to bid against each other for products.
NBC News’s Monica Alba: “Notable: President Trump continues to argue that the Defense Production Act is more useful as leverage. It has only been invoked to its full powers a handful of times but mostly it has been used ‘in many cases indirectly.’ Today he described it as something like ‘retaliations.’”
Politico: “But the state leaders and DPA experts say the president’s actions still fall far short of the full authority of the emergency law. Instead of targeting individual companies, they say the DPA could be used to set up a centralized federal system to track the parts, production and distribution of tests and medical goods nationwide.”
USA Today: “Nearly a week after invoking his powers under a Korean War-era law to compel General Motors to manufacture ventilators for coronavirus, President Donald Trump’s administration has not formally ordered any of the machines, USA TODAY has learned.”
Trump contradicted health experts as he continued to tout potential coronavirus treatments and encouraged everyone to take it.
Washington Post’s David Nakamura: “Trump earlier read a report about potentially success of hydroxy-chloroquine and added: ‘It might be correct, it might be false.’ Now he says he hopes people use it: ‘What do you have to lose?… I might do it anyway. I may take it.’”
MSNBC’s Kyle Griffin: “Dr. Fauci contradicts Trump and says that there’s not enough data to say that people taking a lupus drug haven’t gotten the coronavirus. Trump then comes in and says: ‘I hope they use hydrochloroquine.’ He adds: ‘What do you have to lose?’”
CNN’s Daniel Dale: “Trump on the use of hydroxychloroquine by people in ‘bad shape’ from the coronavirus: ‘What do you have to lose?’ He says that ‘it’s passed the safety test’ since it’s been used for years for other illnesses. Just not how this works.”
Trump falsely claimed that his administration’s small business loan program has “been flawless so far” — the program’s launch was a failure, leaving many community bankers livid.
Bloomberg’s Jennifer Jacobs: “‘It’s been flawless so far. Far beyond our expectations. I don’t even hear of any glitch…These are loans that get businesses back,’ Trump says when asked about complaints from small business owners and bankers about accessing PPP loans. ‘Everyone’s shocked how well it’s doing.’”
NBC News: “Thousands of applicants, zero loans: Trump’s small businesses lending program is a failure to launch”
Bloomberg’s Jennifer Jacobs: “Community bankers are ‘rightfully frustrated and, in many cases, livid’ after promised online portals never went live yesterday, failing small businesses counting on the banks for emergency coronavirus money, says @romerorainey, CEO of Independent Community Bankers of America.”
Trump continued to be flummoxed by the demand for masks after his administration squandered an Obama-era initiative to rapidly produce millions of masks in a pandemic.
TRUMP: “FEMA and HHS have ordered 180 million — think of that 180 million who ever heard of 180 million N95 — masks.”
Washington Post: “In September 2018, the Trump administration received detailed plans for a new machine designed to churn out millions of protective respirator masks at high speed during a pandemic. The plans, submitted to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) by medical manufacturer O&M Halyard, were the culmination of a venture unveiled almost three years earlier by the Obama administration. But HHS did not proceed with making the machine.”