If one were to assemble a comprehensive list of ideal possible candidates to help lead the White House’s coronavirus efforts it would likely include countless qualified names from the medical field and others with decades of varied experience in government work.
One name that list would certainly not include would be that of the president’s slumlord son-in-law. Unfortunately, nepotism is a far more powerful force in the Trump administration than actual talent or competency so we find ourselves entrusted into the hands of Jared Kushner in the midst of an unprecedented and deadly pandemic.
A new report from The Daily Beast offers a look at Kushner’s COVID-19 efforts and it’s anything but reassuring. The First Daughter’s husband was originally tasked with assembling a coronavirus shadow task force and building a powerful alliance between the private and public sectors to curb the spread of the virus and stabilize the country. So far, it seems the 39-year-old Kushner is completely out of his depths.
Four administration officials told The Daily Beast that in recent weeks Kushner has seemed unengaged with the pandemic. One went so far as to say it’s “unclear” what Kushner and his team have actually been working on with regards to COVID-19 over the past two weeks. Another official revealed that they hadn’t heard from the team in “about a week.”
The lack of adequate medical supplies is one of the most pressing issues of the coronavirus crisis and some state officials claim that Kushner’s operations have disrupted supply chains and made it more difficult for them to hold on to much-needed supplies. Reportedly, FEMA has actually confiscated supplies purchased by the states.
Juliette Kayyem, former Assistant Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, had some particularly harsh words regarding Kushner’s role in coordinating the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s medical supply disbursement strategy.
“He muddied up a process that was really not needing a fix. What that does is disempower FEMA because if at any moment Jared or one of his henchmen demand assets to be redistributed at their discretion, FEMA’s planning gets disrupted,” said Kayyem.
“I’ve never seen operations on something this scale being run out of the White House. Usually it’s policy and communications that they handle… but you would never run logistical operations out of the White House,” she added.
Congress is currently probing Kushner’s FEMA activity. Representative Bennie Thompson (D-MA) is Chairman of the Committee and Homeland Security, which is spearheading the probe. Thompson said there are reports “that the administration is causing chaos for states looking to acquire [personal protective equipment] and other medical equipment.” On top of that, the White House is ” providing Congress with little details on their current operations and how they will improve.”
“It is incredibly troubling that Jared Kushner, someone with no public health or emergency management experience, seems to have a leading role in leading the response to this pandemic,” added Thompson.
One senior administration official involved in Kushner’s virus task force gave an absolutely brutal assessment of his performance.
“[Jared] could be in his office just googling ‘coronavirus,’ show the results to the president, and still get a gold sticker from his dad-in-law. He is solving the coronavirus like he’s bringing peace to the [Middle East],” said the official, referencing one of Kushner’s other major portfolio assignments.
It appears President Trump though—never one to be swayed by a subordinate’s failures so long as they display adequate loyalty—continues to back Kushner. Two sources familiar with the president’s conversations about Kushner told The Daily Beast that Trump has said the media should be fawning over his son-in-law for his efforts.
One crucial fact has emerged. It may not be clear what exactly the president’s son-in-law is doing to curb this outbreak but one thing is definitely, painfully clear: Jared Kushner should not be in charge of any of the government’s COVID-19 efforts. Lives are at stake and his ineptness is a liability we simply cannot afford right now.
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