‘It’s horrible’: Businesses and lawmakers left confused and suspicious as the Trump administration seizes coronavirus supplies
Coronavirus Doctor AFP

There's growing suspicion that the Trump administration may be seizing emergency medical supplies and rerouting them for resale to states.

Governors and business operators alike have complained that the Federal Emergency Management Agency has been intercepting deliveries of personal protective equipment and other medical supplies, a recent New York Daily News report raises questions about where those supplies are going after they're confiscated.

“The product is just sitting on a loading dock at JFK," said George Gianforcaro, owner of Indutex USA, who had 400,000 medical masks confiscated by FEMA agents.

"They want to charge me $3,000 a day to store it there," Gianforcaro added. "I said, ‘I’ll just come pick it up then.’ They said, ‘No, it’s not released.’ It’s un-American, it’s horrible."

The House committees on Homeland Security and Oversight and Reform want to know what's happening to the seized equipment, and they're asking White House adviser Jared Kushner to explain his role in FEMA's operational efforts during pandemic.

Kushner, who is also the president's son-in-law, has placed political appointees and private sector recruits alongside career FEMA officials, but lawmakers are concerned about how needed supplies are being brought into the U.S. and distributed.

Gianforcaro says he provided his customer list -- which include nursing facilities, first responders and the state of Michigan -- to federal officials, along with his pricing and shipment details, but they were still seized.

“Here I’m trying to help," he said. "I talked to FEMA and offered to be their logistics arm. I said, ‘If you call and say Mount Sinai need masks, and you give me an order by 3 p.m, I’ll ship it by 5 p.m. I’m volunteering my time as an American, but it’s just sitting there. God knows what’s happening."

FEMA wouldn't offer any explanation until he got a lawyer involved, but all the agency would tell him is that his equipment was being held under the authority of the Defense Production Act and would be sent to the Strategic National Stockpile.

The agency wouldn't provide any additional information, but told the Delaware News Journal in a statement that reports of FEMA commandeering or rerouting supplies were “false.”