President Donald Trump said New York state would have been better prepared for the coronavirus outbreak if Chuck Schumer hadn’t been distracted by impeachment, in an unusual rebuttal letter prompted by the Senate minority leader’s criticism of the administration’s handling of the outbreak
Trump, who frequently directs barbs at Schumer via Twitter, gave a four-point response on White House stationery to a letter Schumer released earlier in the day and some of the Democratic leader’s comments in interviews.
“If you spent less time on your ridiculous impeachment hoax, which went haplessly on forever and ended up going nowhere (except increasing my poll numbers), and instead focused on helping the people of New York, then New York would not have been so completely unprepared for the ‘invisible enemy,”’ Trump wrote.
Schumer had written that as the virus outbreak spreads “and its terrible, grim toll grows more severe with each passing day, the tardiness and inadequacy of this administration’s response to the crisis becomes more painfully evident.”
The spat conducted via TV interviews and letters shows two of the most powerful politicians in the U.S. trying to score political points as the nation faces a serious health and economic crisis. Trump’s impeachment by the House and his trial in the Senate is cited frequently by Republicans as a distraction at an early stage of the pandemic. Trump was acquitted by the Senate on Feb. 5. He downplayed the threat from the virus for weeks afterward.
Schumer also called for Trump to appoint someone from the military, rather than trade adviser Peter Navarro, to oversee implementation of the Defense Production Act to compel manufacturers to produce essential items like ventilators and protective equipment for medical workers.
“With all due respect to Dr. Navarro, whose expertise is in other areas, he is woefully unqualified for this task,” Schumer wrote.
Trump, in his letter, said that Rear Admiral James Polowczyk, a Navy logistics expert, is in charge of “purchasing, distributing, etc.” for the White House’s virus task force. Trump said he provided Schumer with this information, but “for public relations purposes, you choose to ignore it.”
At Thursday’s White House briefing, Polowczyk said Trump has asked him to get more more equipment to health care workers. He said there are pallets on their way to New York, loaded with 200,000 N95 masks. Polowczyk said that he has a personal interest in helping New York, since he has family working in the state’s hospitals.
“I’ve known you for many years, but I never knew how bad a senator you are for the state of New York, until I became president,” Trump said in concluding his letter. “If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call.”
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