On Wednesday, writing for The Washington Post, columnist Karen Tumulty tore into President Donald Trump for entrusting life or death policy matters to his inept son-in-law.
"Whenever a member of the Trump family gets involved with a project, it is always smart to keep an eye out for the grift," wrote Tumulty. "We might have hoped that a pandemic that has already cost more than 70,000 Americans their lives would be an exception to this rule. But no. President Trump’s decision to again put his unqualified son-in-law, Jared Kushner, in charge of a team charged with a vital national security interest — this time, procuring crucial supplies and protective equipment for hospitals and others on the front lines of fighting the coronavirus — is producing the usual results: incompetence and cronyism."
"Both The Post and The New York Times report that Kushner and a small team of inexperienced volunteers from the private sector have overridden career officials at the Federal Emergency Management Agency and are making a deadly crisis even deadlier with their amateur-hour bungling," wrote Tumulty. "The story line, which sounds as though it might have been lifted from the reality show 'Shark Tank,' had been that these whiz kids from consulting, venture capital and private equity firms were better equipped than federal officials who have spent years planning for a disaster like the one we are going through to sift through leads on where to find badly needed personal protective equipment (PPE) and other supplies and cut deals to acquire them."
"That the volunteers would want to lend a hand is admirable, but finding and procuring the proper equipment require a high degree of technical knowledge," wrote Tumulty. "And as you might expect in any operation run by a member of the Trump family, some leads and requests got better treatment than others," with a spreadsheet listing "VIP" recipients like Republicans in Congress, Fox News hosts, and a former contestant on "The Apprentice."
"In one case, Kushner’s volunteers forwarded a tip (that they claimed to have checked out) to New York state, which awarded a $69 million contract to a supposed supplier of ventilators," wrote Tumulty. "Not one was delivered. Meanwhile, more credible leads were being ignored."
"All of this has been going on as the government’s warehouses of supplies have been emptying out and medical personnel have been trying to cobble together their own gear," continued Tumulty. "Faced with complaints by governors and local officials that they were not getting what they needed from the Strategic National Stockpile, Kushner declared: 'The notion of the federal stockpile was it’s supposed to be our stockpile. It’s not supposed to be state stockpiles that they then use.'"
"The president seems to have a bottomless faith that his son-in-law can solve any problem that lands on the Resolute desk," wrote Tumulty. "In addition to the coronavirus-response shop that Kushner has set up at FEMA, his 'senior adviser' portfolio includes brokering peace in the Middle East, building a border wall, reforming the criminal-justice system, and of course, the highest priority of all, getting Trump reelected. All of this is quite a load for a 39-year-old whose previous experience consisted of investments, real estate development and publishing a high-society newspaper."
"We are seeing now why government cannot, and should not, be run like a family business," concluded Tumulty. "In normal times, nepotism is merely corrupt. But at a moment such as the nightmare that we are all living through, it can be fatal."
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