Trump's distrust of experts is why Jared Kushner is now overseeing the pandemic response: columnist
White House senior advisors Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump stand behind the president in the Oval Office (Twitter)

According to Bloomberg columnist Noah Feldman, Donald Trump's deep distrust of experts will likely impede the government's efforts to stem the rising tide of coronavirus victims as he chooses instead to hand off the critical response duties to son-in-law Jared Kushner who has also been tasked with corraling the opioid epidemic and solving the Middle East conflict that has simmered for decades.

Feldman notes that, under normal circumstances, any other president would have turned over responsibility for the healthcare crisis that has dwarfed any that have preceded it to a technocrat who knows how the system works -- but that Trump is not a normal president.

"The laws that govern emergencies like the coronavirus pandemic give enormous power to the executive branch to direct and coordinate disaster response. These laws are not designed to empower the president personally," he wrote. "To the contrary, the whole point of the emergency laws is to empower government experts who know what must be done in a crisis — that is, career technocrats who work at agencies like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the federal emergency management agency (FEMA). Congress doesn’t trust the president in an emergency. It trusts the experts."

The problem, he explains is that Trump ran in 2016 on "draining the swamp," and that included chasing off experts who do not share his from-the-gut worldview.

"Why Trump is so negative about career authority and expertise is itself a very complicated question that would deserve a long essay of its own to unravel," he explained. "But for our purposes, it should be enough to say that a big part of it is that Trump got elected by tapping into the populist sentiments of the kind found in Tea Party circles. The Tea Party worldview that Trump took on is profoundly anti-elitist. And experts are card carrying members of the American elite."

That, in turn, has led to Trump to skip over the most obvious candidate to head the White House coronavirus task force.

'In an ordinary administration, the president would have responded to mounting pandemic concerns by designating a career technocrat — say, someone like the preeminent public health expert in the government, Dr. Anthony Fauci — to take charge of national response," he explained. "Instead, Trump at first gave us no one; then Vice President Mike Pence, who foundered; and now, his son-in-law and preferred last-ditch trouble-shooter, Jared Kushner, who must try to impose some logical order on a situation that has already fallen into substantial disarray."

"What makes the current state of affairs so tricky is that when an emergency is actually going on, it isn’t that easy for anyone to supervise how the executive branch is actually deploying its power. If the president ignores or circumvents his experts in the bureaucracy, it can’t realistically be stopped," he warned before hopefully adding, "If Kushner can re-empower the experts who are supposed to be in charge, that would be a big win for the way government is supposed to work. And it would almost certainly save lives."

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