President Donald Trump in an aside during a briefing on the coronavirus pandemic in the press … [+]
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Topline: Responding to a question during Friday’s White House briefing regarding his criticism of some Democratic governors, President Donald Trump said he encourages Vice President Mike Pence to avoid calling governors if they’re not appreciative of the work being done by the federal government. “If they don’t treat you right, I don’t call,” he said.
- In an interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity Thursday night, Trump complained about two Democratic governors, Governor Jay Inslee of Washington and Governor Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, whom he fumbled to identify, instead calling her “the young, a woman governor,” saying they complained too much and that “we’ll have to make a decision” regarding Michigan’s emergency declaration.
- Without identifying him by name, Trump also seemed to criticize New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s request for 30,000 ventilators, saying, incredibly, “I don’t believe you need 40,000 or 30,000 ventilators.”
- Asked what he wants from the governors during Friday’s briefing, he said, “I want them to be appreciative . . . we’ve done a great job. . . . when they’re not appreciative to me, they’re not appreciative to the Army Corps, they’re not appreciative to FEMA.”
- “I say, ‘Mike, don’t call the governor of Washington, you’re wasting your time with him; don’t call the woman in Michigan—it doesn’t make any difference what happens,’” Trump said during the briefing before mentioning that Pence is a “different type of person, he’ll call quietly anyway.”
- A bipartisan group of congressional representatives from Michigan wrote a letter Thursday to Pence urging the federal government to approve pending shipments of additional personal protective equipment, like a request for 200,000 swabs that has gone unfulfilled.
- Trump has butted heads with governors regarding his reluctance to use the Defense Production Act, which allows the federal government to compel companies to develop supplies for national defense, saying last week the federal government isn’t a “shipping clerk” and that “governors are supposed to be doing it.”
Tangent: On Friday, after negotiations fell through between the government and General Motors, Trump finally invoked the Defense Production Act to order GM to “accept, perform and prioritize federal contracts for ventilators,” though, he continued to say during the briefing, “I think there’s a very good chance we won‘t need that many.”
He announced during the briefing that his trade advisor Peter Navarro would be appointed to oversee the use of the Defense Production Act. Like Trump, it appears Navarro will be conservative with its use. Critics of the inaction say the act could help with shortages, but more so, it could help with coordination between private sector companies, as governors are currently bidding against one another for ventilators, n95 face masks and other personal protective equipment. Navarro made headlines recently by continuing the trade war with China and prioritizing the purchase of medical equipment and supplies from American manufacturers.
Key Background: Michigan is the state with the fourth-highest number of cases in the country, at 3,634, with Washington close behind at 3,477, according to Johns Hopkins University. Almost half of all cases of the coronavirus in the country reside in New York, Governor Cuomo revealed Friday.
Further Reading: Why Doesn’t President Trump Practice Social Distancing At His Press Conferences?