Former president Donald Trump diverted a U.S. Navy hospital ship last year, in the early days of the pandemic, from Washington state to California as a show of favoritism, according to a new book.
ABC News chief White House correspondent Jon Karl published a new book, Front Row at the Trump Show, out Tuesday with new reporting on the former president's decision in March 2020 to redirect the Navy hospital Mercy away from Seattle, where it had been deployed to help the region's hospitals overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients, in excerpts published by Politico Playbook.
"Don't you think we should send it to California?" Trump told advisers, according to Karl. "Gavin has been saying such nice things about me."
The twice-impeached one-term president was reportedly angry at Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, whom he deemed a "showboater" and "a real jerk," and wanted to reward California Gov. Gavin Newsom for complimenting his response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Inslee had criticized the Trump administration's response to the novel coronavirus outbreak in February:
I just received a call from @VP Mike Pence, thanking Washington state for our efforts to combat the coronavirus.… https://t.co/inrMPwY3b0— Jay Inslee (@Jay Inslee) 1582862949.0
The Mercy arrived in Los Angeles in late March to help alleviate southern California hospitals and returned to San Diego in May, after treating 77 non-coronavirus patients.
"Lives were at risk. Politics at play. He didn't care," said former Trump official Olivia Troye, adding that the hospital "was being used as a political pawn."