Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) doubled down on his demands for President Trump to appoint a military “czar” to oversee the distribution of medical supplies to states, providing a list of names Sunday to White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows.
Schumer has for days been battling the president over what he believes is his inadequate response to the coronavirus pandemic. He has repeatedly accused Trump of failing to adequately manage the delivery of medical goods and supplies to states that need them, lodging his complaints during appearances on both MSNBC and CNN.
“And they have no one, that I can best tell, in charge of the distribution,” Schumer said during an appearance on CNN’s OutFront last week.
They need one person, a military person, a general who knows how to deal with logistics and order mastering, who knows command and control, you need to place that person, the czar, in charge of both production and distribution of all of [these] kinds of needed equipment and get it to the places that are needed and that have shortages.
The senator took a different approach on Sunday night, speaking to Meadows on the phone and providing him with the names of individuals he believes Trump should appoint as a distribution czar.
According to Politico, those include:
Air Force Gen. Paul Selva, the former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs under both BARACK OBAMA and TRUMP; Adm. Sandy Winnefeld, the Navy veteran who was also the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs and ran the U.S. Northern Command, which deals with domestic disasters; and Vice Adm. Mark Harnitcheck, who ran the Defense Logistics Agency.
Trump has yet to positively respond to Schumer’s plea, contending he does, in fact, have a military figure leading FEMA’s supply chain task force –Rear Adm. John Polowczyk.
“Somebody please explain to Cryin’ Chuck Schumer that we do have a military man in charge of distributing goods, a very talented Admiral, in fact,” Trump said on Thursday.
“New York has gotten far more than any other State, including hospitals & a hospital ship, but no matter what, always complaining,” he continued.
“It wouldn’t matter if you got ten times what was needed, it would never be good enough,” he added.
“Unlike other states, New York unfortunately got off to a late start. You should have pushed harder. Stop complaining & find out where all of these supplies are going. Cuomo working hard!”:
…It wouldn’t matter if you got ten times what was needed, it would never be good enough. Unlike other states, New York unfortunately got off to a late start. You should have pushed harder. Stop complaining & find out where all of these supplies are going. Cuomo working hard!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 2, 2020
The tension between the two bubbled over last week, prompting the president to respond to Schumer’s critiques in a pointed letter.
“Thank you for your Democrat public relations letter and incorrect sound bites, which are wrong in every way,” the letter began as Trump addressed the minority leader’s mounting critiques:
- As you are aware, Vice President Pence is in charge of the Task Force. By almost all accounts, he has done a spectacular job.
- The Defense Production Act (DPA) has been consistently used by my team and me for the purchase of billions of dollars’ worth of equipment, medical supplies, ventilators, and other related items. It has been powerful leverage, so powerful that companies generally do whatever we are asking, without even a formal notice. They know something is coming, and that’s all they need to know.
- A “senior military officer” is in charge of purchasing, distributing, etc. His name is Rear Admiral John Polowczyk. He is working 24 hours a day, and is highly respected by everyone. If you remember, my team gave you this information, but for public relations purposes, you choose to ignore it.
- We have given New York many things, including hospitals, medical centers, medical supplies, record numbers of ventilators, and more. You should have had New York much better prepared than you did, and as Dr. Fauci and Dr. Birx said yesterday, New York was very late in its fight against the virus. As you are aware, the Federal Government is merely a back-up for state governments. Unfortunately, your state needed far more of a back-up than most others.
Trump also told Schumer that New York would not have been “so completely unprepared for the invisible enemy” had the senator not wasted so much time on the “ridiculous impeachment hoax which went haplessly on forever and ended up going nowhere.”