WASHINGTON – Elevating a feud with some governors critical of the government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, President Donald Trump insisted Thursday his team is delivering medical supplies to states nationwide and that certain unnamed “complainers” will never be satisfied.
In a series of tweets, Trump said some state leaders have “insatiable appetites” for equipment needed to fight the spread of a virus that threatens to kill up to 240,000 Americans this year.
“Massive amounts of medical supplies, even hospitals and medical centers, are being delivered directly to states and hospitals by the Federal Government,” Trump said in a tweet. “Some have insatiable appetites & are never satisfied (politics?). Remember, we are a backup for them.”
Trump did not specify which critics he was referring to, but a group of Democratic governors that include Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, Andrew Cuomo of New York, J.B. Pritzker of Illinois and Jay Inslee of Washington state have criticized the slow pace of federal assistance.
Critics accused Trump of shifting blame for a slow response that has allowed the coronavirus to spread.
“These tweets are disgusting,” said Walter Shaub, former director of the Office of Government Ethics. “This is a man desperate to shift blame instead of save a country because he knows he’s over his head. He doesn’t care who dies, he cares who votes for him.”
Some governors said they have shortages of masks, gloves, and personal protective equipment that doctors need to treat coronavirus patients. They also protest a looming shortage of ventilators that patients with the virus need to breathe.
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Trump has been clashing with certain governors for weeks.
On Friday, when Trump asked Vice President Mike Pence not to call governors who have not been “appreciative” enough, Whitmer tweeted: “I’ve asked repeatedly and respectfully for help. We need it. No more political attacks, just PPEs, ventilators, N95 masks, test kits.”
On March 22, after Pritzker complained in a CNN interview about the federal response to the coronavirus, Trump tweeted that the Illinois governor and others “shouldn’t be blaming the Federal Government for their own shortcomings.”
Responding on Twitter, Pritzker said: “You wasted precious months when you could’ve taken action to protect Americans & Illinoisans. You should be leading a national response instead of throwing tantrums from the back seat.”
At times, Trump has accused states of hoarding equipment, comments that brought criticism from governors like Cuomo.
“We’re creating a stockpile,” Cuomo said this week. “For someone to say, ‘Well, the warehouse has equipment in it, you should be using that equipment today,’ that defies the basic concept of planning.”
He added, in apparent reference to Trump: “If you are not preparing for the apex, and for the high point, you are missing the entire point of the operation. It is a fundamental blunder to only prepare for today.”
Trump said that “New York unfortunately got off to a late start” and said Cuomo is “working hard!”
In his morning tweets, Trump said “the complainers should have been stocked up and ready long before this crisis hit. Other states are thrilled with the job we have done.”
The president also claimed his administration is “sending many Ventilators today, with thousands being built. 51 large cargo planes coming in with medical supplies.”
While not singling out any particular governor in those tweets, Trump sent other posts zeroing in on a congressional critic: Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., who protested the Trump administration’s coronavirus response on MSNBC’s Morning Joe.
Schumer said Trump needs new leadership for the counter-coronavirus effort. He also urged Trump to make use of a federal law designed to compel private industries to make more equipment.
“President Trump needs to harness industry to quickly produce more medical supplies and equipment under the Defense Production Act NOW,” Schumer tweeted. “He needs to appoint a czar like a military or logistics expert to lead the effort to make and get the supplies where they’re needed.”
The president claimed that “New York has gotten far more than any other State”, adding that, “It wouldn’t matter if you got ten times what was needed, it would never be good enough.”