Kushner Reportedly Said “That’s Their Problem” When NY Needed COVID Supplies
When New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) pleaded for help early in the coronavirus pandemic, White House senior adviser Jared Kushner reportedly said Cuomo had not worked hard enough to secure medical supplies for his state, and therefore, “His people are going to suffer and that’s their problem.”
- Vanity Fair’s Katherine Eban reports that during a March meeting, a small group of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, business executives, and venture capitalists met in the White House Situation Room to offer assistance in gathering life-saving supplies amid shortages.
They had secured commitments from dozens of major corporations, including General Motors, to manufacture ventilators, map supply needs, create a system for contact tracing, and much more.
- The group discussed with Federal Emergency Management Agency officials the need for President Trump to invoke the Defense Production Act to unleash the government’s procurement powers, and they were asked to return for a meeting with Kushner.
What actually transpired in the room stunned a number of those in attendance. Vanity Fair has reconstructed the details of the meeting for the first time, based on recollections, notes, and calendar entries from three people who attended the meeting. All quotations are based on the recollections of one or more individual attendees.
- The private sector group expected to learn of a sweeping government plan for obtaining supplies but were met by an almost apathetic Kushner.
- Kushner reportedly told the group: “The federal government is not going to lead this response. It’s up to the states to figure out what they want to do.”
- An attendee explained to Kushner that Americans were bidding against each other for a limited supply of personal protective equipment (PPE), driving up prices, and said businesses were looking to the government for leadership.
- Kushner dismissed the notion: “Free markets will solve this. That is not the role of government.”
- The attendee said he told Kushner he too believed in free markets but the system was breaking, citing a CNN report about Cuomo’s plea for supplies.
- Kushner reportedly responded: “That’s the CNN bullshit. They lie.”
- Another attendee said Kushner also railed against the Democratic New York governor, saying: “Cuomo didn’t pound the phones hard enough to get PPE for his state…. His people are going to suffer and that’s their problem.”
We were all saying, ‘Mr. Kushner, if you want to fix this problem for PPE and ventilators, there’s a path to do it, but you have to make a policy change,’” one person who attended the meeting recounted.
In response Kushner got “very aggressive,” the attendee recalled. “He kept invoking the markets” and told the group they “only understood how entrepreneurship works, but didn’t understand how government worked.”
- Another attendee said it seemed “very clear” that Kushner was uninterested in solutions because primarily blue states were affected: “We were flabbergasted. I basically had an out-of-body experience: Where am I, and what happened to America?”
In response to a request for comment, a senior administration official told Vanity Fair that the meeting was not confrontational and said the attendees’ impressions were “not rooted in reality.”