Trump volunteers kept ‘VIP’ list of leads for medical supplies: report
Volunteers who helped oversee the Trump administration’s supply chain task force were encouraged to prioritize assistance and tips from political allies and associates of President Trump, The New York Times reports.
The volunteers tracked those whose assistance they prioritized on a “VIP Update” spreadsheet, the Times reported, citing documents and emails it obtained. Included on the list were Republican members of Congress, conservative activist Charlie Kirk and Tana Goertz, a former “Apprentice” contestant and Trump surrogate.
However, few of the leads, both garnered from the VIP list and other sources, were fruitful, according to a whistleblower memo written by one volunteer and obtained by The Times.
“The nature and scale of the response seemed grossly inadequate,” the volunteer told the Times on condition of anonymity. “It was bureaucratic cycles of chaos.”
The whistleblower’s memo was sent to the House Oversight and Reform Committee on April 8, according to The Washington Post.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill.
The group of roughly a dozen volunteers was recruited by Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner and overseen by a former aide to Ivanka Trump, the Times noted.
They were tasked with combing through more than a thousand leads and told to send along the best ones for further review by FEMA officials.
Rear Adm. John Polowczyk, the head of the supply chain task force, defended the volunteers’ work, saying they served an important role.
“The first thing we knew we needed to do was find more product around the globe in order to buy time to increase domestic production,” he told the Times. “This group made lots of calls, followed up on many leads. They helped wade through the hundreds of false claims and turned over a few true sources to government action officers. Their efforts saved many government man hours.”
Kushner also defended the group’s work, saying in a statement to the Post, “The bottom line is that this program sourced tens of millions of masks and essential PPE [personal protective equipment] in record time and Americans who needed ventilators received ventilators.”
“These volunteers are true patriots,” he added.
Trump has been highly defensive over his administration’s handling of the coronavirus and the procurement of the tools needed to combat the pandemic, citing the fact that the U.S. has tested more people than any other country, among other things. However, governors across the country have said they are still in need of more personal protection equipment and testing kits if they want to try to significantly reduce the number of cases in their states.