Wait, Jared Kushner is the coronavirus guru now?

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“Today you’re going to hear from Jared Kushner, senior adviser to the President of the United States, but someone the White House Coronavirus task force has tasked with working with FEMA on chain issues. supply, “said Vice President Mike Pence. “And in recent weeks, he has led a task force, in collaboration with FEMA, which has literally identified millions of medical supplies across the country and around the world. And we are grateful for his efforts and his leadership. “

Kushner, it seems, has insinuated himself into a leading role in coordinating the administration’s response to the coronavirus despite no obvious qualifications – he is not a doctor, an infectious disease expert, or someone who has led large organizations – for such an important role.

“Because of his unique status, he has made the point of contact for many agency officials who know he can force action and make decisions without going to the president. But while Kushner and his allies say he has brought more order to the process, the government’s response remains fragmented and behind the curve. ”

That – a powerful but amorphous role in which he has special status due to his marriage to President Trump’s eldest daughter, Ivanka Trump – is familiar territory for Kushner.

At the start of Trump’s presidency, Kushner was nicknamed the “secretary of everything” because it looked like he literally had a hand in every pot in the White House. Kushner’s portfolio included, among other things, managing US-Chinese relations, overseeing peace negotiations in the Middle East, strengthening US relations with Mexico, establishing a task force to encourage innovation in government and oversee the administration’s efforts in criminal justice reform.

As CNN’s Kevin Liptak wrote about Kushner in April 2017:

“Many White House and administration officials say Kushner has now trumped almost all of the West Wing and Trump cabinet advisers in terms of influence, establishing himself as the key envoy to those who are not part of the administration – including foreign diplomats, business leaders and even some members of Congress – to direct their auctions. ”

The following year, Kushner’s star was somewhat blurred. Questions about his financial transactions during the presidential transition period have slowed his efforts to obtain a permanent security clearance. (The New York Times reported in 2019 that Trump had ordered then-chief of staff John Kelly to give Kushner security clearance.)

But he was still Trump’s son-in-law. And for a president who didn’t seem to trust anyone beyond his family, that mattered. Many. Kushner’s re-emergence – and his role as phantom CEO – of the Trump administration’s coronavirus efforts should therefore not really surprise anyone who has paid attention.

So how did Kushner do it during his first major public appearance in the face of the coronavirus pandemic? Uh, not great.

Let’s review what Kushner said:

1) Asked about complaints from states that they were not getting the medical supplies they needed from the federal government, Kushner said this: “The notion of federal stock is that it is supposed to be our stock. These are not supposed to be the state stocks they use next. “

This goes directly against the way the national strategic stock is described on its own website (bold is mine):

When state, local, tribal, and territorial responders request federal assistance to support their response efforts, the stock ensures that the right drugs and supplies reach those who need them most in an emergency.. ”

2) To explain his role in the coronavirus task force, Kushner recounted how Trump heard from “his friends” that New York’s public hospital system lacked essential medical supplies. Kushner described how he phoned the head of state public hospitals, asked him what he needed, and then got the equivalent of a month of N95 masks for the system.

Which is good for New York public hospitals! But the process described by Kushner – the president hears something from his friends, Kushner makes calls at the request of the president, this group goes to the beginning of the line – is, uh, probably not a plan that we want to follow in best practice terms on how to distribute necessary medical supplies.

Kushner, whatever he says or does, of course, goes nowhere. There is blood – or at least blood through marriage – for Trump. And nothing is more important to Trump than that.

But that doesn’t mean that Kushner sandwiched in an already confused and decidedly disorganized response to the coronavirus pandemic is smart or will make a difference. Time will tell, but the first reruns are not promising.



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