Report: Kushner Stymied Testing Efforts So Trump Could Blame Blue State Govs
President Donald Trump has repeatedly lamented that increased testing reveals more cases of coronavirus, at one point saying that he told officials to “Slow the testing down, please.” The White House attempted to pass Trump’s comment off as a joke, but recent reporting from Vanity Fair suggests there was follow-through on the president’s wishes by White House adviser Jared Kushner’s task force.
Charlie Sykes, editor-at-large of the Bulwark and and MSNBC contributor, noted in an NBC News piece that motivation for slowing down testing appears to have been entirely political, as Vanity Fair reported: "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."
The report 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.
Of course, the White House denied the report, with White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany saying, "The article is completely incorrect in its assertion that any testing was stopped for political or other reasons.”
However, Sykes noted that Trump has encouraged partisan politics throughout the pandemic.
“Back in May, Trump told Fox News that coronavirus emergency funding bills would be unfair to more conservative states,” Sykes wrote, offering a quote from the president: "It's not fair to the Republicans, because all the states that need help, they're run by Democrats in every case.”
Trump “seemed to relish turning the fight against the pandemic into a culture war,” Sykes recalled, mentioning the president’s encouragement of anti-lockdown protests in several states.
The political scheme cooked up by Trump and Kushner to ignore national efforts in order that Trump could blame blue state governors for his failures ultimately failed.
The disease has spread from blue states to red ones, moving from urban to rural areas and into the heart of Trump's own base. Not surprisingly, his poll numbers have crumbled.
But the real consequence is far from political, he added: “More than 157,000 Americans have died from the coronavirus, and we're nowhere near the end of even the first wave of deaths.”