Trump Issues 4-Point Clarification to Schumer in Blunt Letter

Trump Issues 4-Point Clarification to Schumer in Blunt Letter
President Donald Trump speaks in the press briefing room with members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force in Washington on April 2, 2020. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Mimi Nguyen Ly
President Donald Trump late Thursday issued a letter to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) responding to Schumer’s criticisms of the federal government’s handling of the CCP virus pandemic.

“Thank you for your Democrat public relations letter and incorrect sound bites, which are wrong in every way,” Trump said in the letter.

In a letter earlier in the day, Schumer wrote to Trump saying that the “national response is far behind where it should be.” The letter raised the issue of shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) and medical supplies in New York state and other areas across the United States, and called for the Trump administration to “designate a senior military officer to fix this urgent problem.”

Schumer also accused Trump of having dismissed the Defense Production Act (DPA) “as not being needed,” and criticized Trump’s appointment of White House aide Peter Navarro as the National DPA Policy Coordinator as “woefully unqualified” for solving the PPE and ventilator shortages.

On Wednesday, Schumer appeared on CNN’s “Out Front” program with a similar message as his Thursday letter.
The letter from the president provided four points of clarification to Schumer.

“1. As you are aware, Vice President Pence is in charge of the Task Force. By almost all accounts, he has done a spectacular job.

“2. The Defense Production Act (DPA) has been consistently used by my team and me for the purchase of billions of dollars’ worth of equipment, medical supplies. ventilators, and other related items. It has been powerful leverage, so powerful that companies generally do whatever we are asking, without even a formal notice. They know something is coming, and that’s all they need to know.”

Trump on March 27 authorized the use of the DPA to compel General Motors to move faster on producing ventilators. On Thursday, he authorized the use of the DPA again to further ramp up ventilator production in the United States.

The third point in Trump’s letter noted that Rear Admiral John Polowczyk is in charge of coordinating the United States’ COVID-19 supply chain task force at the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

“If you remember, my team gave you this information, but for public relations purposes, you choose to ignore it,” Trump wrote.

Finally, Trump pointed out that the federal government has provided New York state “many things, including hospitals, medical centers, medical supplies, record numbers of ventilators, and more.”

“You should have had New York much better prepared than you did, as Dr. Fauci and Dr. Birx said yesterday, New York was very late in its fight against the virus,” Trump wrote. “As you are aware, the federal government is merely a back-up for state governments. Unfortunately, your state needed far more of a back-up than most others.”

Trump wrote that New York “would not have been so completely unprepared” for the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus—also known as the novel coronavirus—if Schumer had “focused more on helping the people of New York,” and spent less time on impeachment proceedings against the president.

“Fortunately, we have been working with your state and city governments, Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill DeBlasio, to get the job done. You have been missing in action, except when it comes to the ‘press,’” Trump wrote, urging Schumer to start cooperating with Cuomo “for the good of all New Yorkers.”

Trump had earlier taken to Twitter on Thursday morning to announce that “we do have a military man in charge of distributing goods,” and that “New York has gotten far more than any other state, including hospitals and a hospital ship.”

“It wouldn’t matter if you got 10 times what was needed, it would never be good enough. Unlike other states, New York unfortunately got off to a late start. You should have pushed harder. Stop complaining and find out where all of these supplies are going. Cuomo working hard!” Trump wrote.

Senate Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) leaves after a news conference at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on March 17, 2020. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Senate Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) leaves after a news conference at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on March 17, 2020. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Schumer responded to Trump’s letter by way of a Twitter post later on Thursday, in which he called Trump’s letter “petty” and “unserious” while calling his own letter “serious.”

“To the President: Americans are dying and losing jobs. Businesses are teetering. Stop the pettiness. Be a leader. Do your job,” read Schumer’s message.

On MSNBC’s “All In with Chris Hayes,” Thursday evening, Schumer said that he was “appalled” upon receiving the letter.

“You know, I’d say to the president: just stop the pettiness—people are dying—and so, President Trump, we need leadership. We need to get the job done. Stop the pettiness. Let’s get it done. Let’s roll up our sleeves,” Schumer said.

The death toll from the CCP virus jumped to 2,370 in New York state on Thursday. There are more than 92,300 cases in the state, more than 13,000 patients with the virus are hospitalized, and about 3,000 are in intensive care units, Cuomo said on Thursday at a press briefing.

Polowczyk announced on Thursday at a press briefing that 27.1 million surgical masks, 19.5 million N95 respirators, 22.4 million pairs of protective gloves and 5.2 million face shields are being pushed out to state governments.

The federal government has also sent out some 7,640 ventilators, Polowczyk said, of which 4,400 are going to New York, 500 to Washington state, 850 to New Jersey, 400 to Michigan, and 150 to Louisiana.

He also said that six planes carrying medical supplies from overseas have landed in the United States so far, and 28 more are expected in the coming weeks.

Vice President Mike Pence also told reporters that “pallets are being loaded right now to send 200,000 N95 [respirator] masks to New York City to the public health hospitals.”

“I have family in New York,“ Polowczyk said. ”My sister’s a nurse practitioner in Westchester hospital and my niece is a nurse in a Long Island hospital, and I have other health care professionals in the family. So I have skin in this game, and the president asked me to get more [respirators] to health care workers and we’re going to get more to health care workers.”