President Donald Trump snapped at a reporter during Friday night’s coronavirus task force update after she asked him to clarify what his son-in-law Jared Kushner meant by saying the federal stockpile of medical equipment was “our” stockpile and not the states’ stockpile.
“‘Our’ means the United States of America. That’s what it means,” Trump told CBS News’ Weijia Jiang after accusing her of trying to stage a “gotcha” moment.
“Our. Our. It means the United States of America. And then we take that ‘our’ and we distribute it to the states,” the president continued.
Jiang continued to push Trump on the issue, asking him to clarify if the states should be able to have access to the federal stockpile.
“So,” she asked, “who are we giving it to if it’s not for the states?”
“To keep for our country because the federal government needs it, too. Not just the states,” Trump replied, adding that the medical stockpile had nearly 10,000 ventilators that were going to be sent across the country.
Apparently frustrated with Jiang’s line of questioning, Trump told her that she should be ashamed for asking the question.
“It’s such a basic, simple question and you try to make it sound so bad. You ought to be ashamed of yourself,” he told her. “You know what? You ought to be ashamed.”
“You just asked your question in a very nasty tone,” he added while trying to move on to the next reporter. “I gave you a perfect answer. You know it.”
Trump has a habit of using the word “nasty” when he’s interacting with women who do not agree with him or who question him. Just last month, he told PBS News reporter Yamiche Alcindor that her question was “nasty” when she asked why the administration disbanded a pandemics team on the National Security Council in 2018.
Kushner, a White House adviser, faced a wave of criticism at the task force update on Thursday after he said that the medical supplies in the national stockpile were not meant for state governors to use.
He suggested that states should use their own stockpiles instead of the one managed by the federal government.
“The notion of the federal stockpile was it’s supposed to be our stockpile,” Kushner said. “It’s not supposed to be states’ stockpiles that they then use.”
Many people who watched that press conference wondered what Kushner meant by that.
After Trump’s exchange with Jiang on Friday, another reporter followed her line of questioning and asked, “The federal stockpile, isn’t that designed to be able to distribute to the states?”
Trump reiterated that the federal government needed the stockpile and said that the states “were totally unprepared” for this pandemic.
“We’re not an ordering clerk. They have to fend for themselves,” Trump said.
The president also defended Kushner later, assuring a reporter that he did not “misspeak” when explaining how the stockpile works on Thursday.
Trump then said the federal government needed to keep supplies in the stockpile in anticipation of another surge in COVID-19 cases.
“We also want to keep some because when that surge comes, when you hit those peaks, we need to have the flexibility to take those ventilators and bring them to Louisiana, New York, Detroit,” he said.
Before Kushner declared that the federal stockpile was only meant for the federal government, the official website for the Department of Health and Human Services said it was designed to support “state, local, tribal and territorial responders.”
But by Friday morning, the summary on that webpage had been deleted and replaced with a description that reflected Kusher’s comments, as GQ political columnist and former HuffPost reporter Laura Bassett pointed out.
The original summary of the stockpile read:
“When state, local, tribal, and territorial responders request federal assistance to support their response efforts, the stockpile ensures that the right medicines and supplies get to those who need them most during an emergency.”
On Friday, it read:
“The Strategic National Stockpile’s role is to supplement state and local supplies during public health emergencies. Many states have products stockpiled, as well. The supplies, medicines, and devices for life-saving care contained in the stockpile can be used as a short-term stopgap buffer when the immediate supply of adequate amounts of these materials may not be immediately available.”
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