President Donald Trump's coronavirus response team has started ignoring his outbursts and stopped caring whether their recommendations anger him.
The task force had tried to present a united front with the president in the early stages of the COVID-19 outbreak, but they have largely stopped correcting his misinformation on the record and even pushing back behind the scenes, reported The Daily Beast.
“It is a pain in the ass sometimes, for sure,” said one senior official who works with the task force. “There isn't much more [some of us] can do in that, except continue making sound policy recommendations and hope they sink in. Sometimes the president backs off on some things, sometimes he doesn’t. It's his call.”
Governors have noticed the disconnect, which has grown more noticeable as protests against COVID-19 lockdowns have sprung up outside statehouses and are encouraged by Trump's tweets -- but discouraged by his public health advisers.
“It’s bipolar down there,” said Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont. “We had a good constructive meeting with the vice president’s commission [but] then you hear the press conference of the president. You sometimes feel like the governors are being used as a campaign prop.”
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp -- a Trump-backing Republican -- has announced his state will ease social distancing restrictions soon, although other GOP governors are split on that action -- and the president's task force has cautioned against that.
A White House spokesperson told The Daily Beast the president was following "a data-driven, phased approach" and listening to his public health advisers, but so far those experts have urged keeping those restrictions in place.
Trump's political advisers recognize the risk posed to his re-election if states are reopened too soon and another outbreak explodes, but Trump thinks he can bluff his way through that.
Two sources told The Daily Beast the president has recently been riffing that he has the "best people" and a "tremendous team" to handle another outbreak in the fall, and Trump believes he and his team would "crush" another wave -- just like he believes they already had done with the initial outbreak.