White House Senior Adviser Jared Kushner and Dr. Jeffrey Hendricks are both pushing back on a New York Times hit piece on the administration’s use of professionals who volunteered to help in its efforts to combat the coronavirus outbreak. While Kushner is claiming that the New York Times piece is not true, Hendricks is saying that it did not fully reflect what happened.
The hit piece from earlier this week centered on remarks from Dr. Hendricks, who The New York Times quoted as saying, “When I offered [the volunteers] viable leads at viable prices from an approved vendor, they kept passing me down the line and made terrible deals instead.”
The Spectator’s Amber Athey reported that Hendricks said in a new statement that the way The New York Times portrayed his remarks did not “fully reflect” the administration’s “incredible efforts”:
I read the article in The New York Times. There were some pieces that were true and some things that did not fully reflect my experience. To be fair to the volunteers, Rachel Baitel, and others, I should clarify my experience. Most importantly, we all need to recognize we are in an unprecedented situation with a global health crisis of almost incomprehensible magnitude. My experience with the volunteers was that they were kind, responsive, and tried to assist. I believe everybody is trying to manage the best way possible and with good intentions. There will be efforts that work, and efforts that are well intended, but do not. We can assess this going forward and make new recommendations accordingly. I believe that this administration is putting forth incredible efforts to assist our health care providers and our citizens. Of course, there will be frustrating aspects of it along the way, and yes, I experienced some of this. I expressed my frustration with slow communication that seemed to have stopped altogether, but also acknowledged the vetting process could take some time. Despite what at times felt like a bureaucratic process I finally received authorization for a site inspection on April 29, 2020, although this has not taken place as of yet.
Kusher pushed back on the report during a Friday interview on Fox Business where he also noted that the report’s characterization of the volunteers as young and inexperienced was not true. He said that the administration sought out people who had expertise in specific private industry domains that could be beneficial in trying to seamlessly coordinate the federal government’s response with the private industry.
When asked about the report, Kushner responded, “I just think it’s just not true. I think that, you know, ‘The Wall Street Journal’ actually had a great op-ed about a week and a half ago saying that Trump’s really rewritten the way, the playbook for how you respond to a global pandemic.”
“And in this time of crisis, the president used a lot of creativity and mobilized the private sector, he mobilized the federal government, and he has a lot of success to show for that in terms of accomplishing incredible things in a short amount of time,” Kushner continued. “So, a lot of these people came down to Washington to help out. They had domain expertise. None of themed had decision-making authority, we left that to the federal government employees. But the reality that they helped source over a billion pieces of PPE, they were involved in setting up project Air Bridge, the FEMA administrator and the DOD people who are working with them all found them to be quite helpful, and they did a great job.”
Kusher said that they were instrumental in the administration getting the ventilator situation figured out and “helped us get our data sets right” because “a lot of governors were asking for things that, quite frankly, were not based on data.”
“And then on the testing supply chain, we’ve had some of our people who were domain expert[s] helping us figure out how to find all the best places to get the mobilization done as quickly as possible,” Kushner added. “At the end of the day, we’ve looked at what they did. I don’t think these people should be harassed for coming down and helping their country in a time of need.”
Kushner refutes the New York Times story on volunteers pic.twitter.com/cqK4BMhDRq
— Team Trump (Text TRUMP to 88022) (@TeamTrump) May 9, 2020
Kushner then correctly noted that the Obama administration used volunteers. California Democrat Governor Gavin Newsom and New York Democrat Governor Andrew Cuomo also utilized volunteers in their responses to the coronavirus pandemic, which originated in China.
“The volunteers dropped their lives, came to Washington, and helped secure valuable PPE,” a senior administration official told The Daily Wire. “They have saved many lives. They did not have any procurement power, which was administered by the career FEMA officials. The New York Times’ hit piece is an embarrassment to journalism.”
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