In Latest Briefing, Trump Makes Clear States Are On Their Own

Perhaps the only thing that was clear from tonight’s briefing is that states are on their own. In a long-winded and confusing two hours, Trump repeatedly skirted responsibility by attacking governors, blaming them for not getting their own supplies sooner, and dismissing their need for more supplies now.

Trump said states shouldn’t be relying on the federal government and should have built their own stockpiles before the coronavirus hit — but he ignored his own administration’s warnings about the coming crisis for months.

Associated Press’s Michael Tackett: “‘The states should have been building their stockpiles…we’re not an ordering clerk,’ Trump said.”

NBC News’s Jonathan Allen: “‘Long before this pandemic arrived, they should have been on the open market,’ Trump says of states and PPE.”

PBS NewsHour’s Yamiche Alcindor: “Pres Trump reiterates he does not want states looking to the federal government as a first resort. WH officials have said repeatedly that the federal government should be a last resort. He said: ‘We are a secondary source.’ Governors say they are in crisis & need last resort.”

Kushner doubled down on Trump’s attacks by blaming governors for poor management — but Trump has balked at using the DPA to manage the supply chains that governors say are chaotic. 

Vox’s Aaron Rupar: “JARED KUSHNER: ‘The notion of the federal stockpile was it’s supposed to be our stockpile. It’s not supposed to be states stockpiles that they then use.’”

The Atlantic’s Edward-Isaac Dovere: “‘What you’re seeing is some people are better managers than others,’ Kushner says, discussing the governors and mayors responding”

Washington Post: “Because supplies are limited, states have had to compete and outbid each other for what’s available on the market. One way to short-circuit the problem, according to Cuomo and others, is for Trump to use the Defense Production Act to ramp up manufacturing of these supplies and allocate them to the places that need them. Trump has been reluctant to use his full powers under the law.”

Trump and Kushner both suggested that governors, who have been begging for supplies for weeks, don’t actually need the equipment they requested.

PBS NewsHour’s Yamiche Alcindor: “Pres Trump has questioned whether governors need requested equipment. ‘I don’t believe you need 40,000 or 30,000 ventilators,’ he said. Jared Kushner says today governors need to show ‘there’s a real need.’ He said, ‘Most governors off the bat didn’t know what they needed.’”

Trump, according to Kushner, finally acted to address supply shortages after only just hearing about them “just this morning” from “friends of his in New York.” Not the federal government or governors, but friends.

Vanity Fair’s Gabriel Sherman: “Jared says Trump learned of New York’s medical supply shortage from a ‘friend’ in New York.”

The Atlantic’s Edward-Isaac Dovere: “by Kushner’s account, President Trump moved to help get medical supplies to New York public hospitals not because of what he’s been told by Cuomo, de Blasio or anyone in the federal government, but because of his friends in New York. Adm Polowczyk now says they’ll arrive tomorrow”

Trump continues to lie about our testing capacity as his administration’s early testing failures exacerbated the spread — and testing shortages continue to harm containment efforts. 

Politico: “Testing gaps in the South and Midwest are crippling efforts to contain emerging hotspots in smaller cities and rural areas. Georgia, Michigan and Oklahoma are among the states where coronavirus outbreaks are intensifying — and where per capita testing rates are some of the lowest in the nation.”

NBC News: “During Thursday’s coronavirus task force briefing, Trump claimed that the U.S. is testing ‘more than any other country in the world both in terms of the raw number, and also on a per capita basis, the most.’…The U.S. is not testing the same share of its population as other countries, a key measure that indicates the U.S. lags behind other nations. As of Thursday, April 2, the U.S has done more than 1.3 million COVID-19 tests. That’s about one in every 250 Americans. South Korea, as of the same date, has tested about one in every 118 people.”

Trump tried to take credit for states that have yet to show spikes in coronavirus cases, who are only being put at greater risk by Trump downplaying the crisis.

Los Angeles Times’s Eli Stokols: “‘Everybody would have to be thrilled with the way most states are doing,’ Trump says. He’s presenting the flat lines in states with fewer cases as success. Birx steps to the podium, makes clear those states remain at risk of a spike.”