Jared Kushner Abandoned National Testing Plan For Perceived Political Advantage
After Vanity Fair reported in July that White House senior adviser and presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner abandoned a national coronavirus testing strategy because he thought it would be politically advantageous to let blue states suffer, a chorus of voices called for his resignation, Common Dreams reported.
- Vanity Fair’s Katherine Eban took “an exhaustive look at decisions made and actions taken by a secretive task force led by Kushner that was charged with implementing an ‘aggressive, coordinated national COVID-19 response’—including a federal testing regime that would help stem the spread of the virus.”
- Eban ultimately uncovered an “‘aborted plan’ for a far-reaching national testing strategy and a deliberative process that ‘began not with public health experts but with bankers and billionaires,’” Common Dreams wrote.
- However, the details of the plan were dwarfed by Eban’s reporting on Kushner’s strategy, the publication wrote:
While the plan itself devised by the team Kushner put together was characterized as "imperfect" but "a starting point," the most shocking revelations have to do with why the strategy, which members of the unit believed would head straight to Trump's desk and then be rolled out nationwide with large fanfare in early April, suddenly seemed to disappear—like "poof into thin air," said one participant in the effort.
- In her report, Eban wrote that “the prospect of launching a large-scale national plan was losing favor, said one public health expert in frequent contact with the White House's official coronavirus task force.”
- She continued: “Most troubling of all, perhaps, was a sentiment the expert said a member of Kushner's team expressed: that because the virus had hit blue states hardest, a national plan was unnecessary and would not make sense politically.”
"The political folks believed that because it was going to be relegated to Democratic states, that they could blame those governors, and that would be an effective political strategy," said the expert.
That logic may have swayed Kushner. "It was very clear that Jared was ultimately the decision maker as to what [plan] was going to come out," the expert said.
- Common Dreams noted that the veracity of the claims could not be verified and that Kushner refused to answer questions from Vanity Fair, but the implications rightly caused immediate outrage.
"Imagine the administration had intel on an imminent terrorist attack that would kill over 100,000 people, and chose to do nothing because it was politically easier," tweeted Matt Duss, foreign policy advisor for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), on his personal account. "That's what we have here. We need to be talking about accountability. For all of it."
- Duss also said removing Trump from office at the ballot box would not be an adequate consequence: "No, losing the election doesn't qualify as accountability. Over 100,000 Americans are dead because of these people's incompetence and viciousness. I know the idea of prosecuting the previous administration makes some uncomfortable. Time to start getting over that."
- Likewise, New York Times op-ed contributor Wajahat Ali tweeted, "Jared Kushner has blood on his hands. And we should talk about this today."
"So the White House made the explicit decision that it was a better political call to let people die in the blue states and blame the governors then try to fix the testing situation," responded Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo.
Public Citizen tweeted, “Holy hell. Jared Kushner reportedly abandoned a national testing plan because it was *politically advantageous* to sit back and let blue states be eviscerated by the virus,” adding: “The corruption and depravity is simply staggering. Kushner needs to resign now.”