Illinois governor fires back after Trump says states were unprepared: He 'does not understand the word federal'

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) slammed President Trump early Sunday, saying after the president suggested states should have prepared their own stockpiles of equipment ahead of the coronavirus pandemic that Trump does not understand the word "federal." 

“The president does not understand the word federal. Federal Emergency Management Agency. We have a state Emergency Management Agency, but if he were right, why would we ever need a Federal Emergency Management Agency?” Pritzker said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “It’s because individual states can't possibly do what the federal government can do.” 

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Trump during his Friday briefing called out states for being “totally unprepared” for the crisis. 

“We have a federal stockpile, and they have state stockpiles, and frankly they were, many of the states, they were totally unprepared for this,” Trump said. “So we had to go into the federal stockpile, but we’re not an ordering clerk. They have to have for themselves.” 

Pritzker said Sunday that states lack the power the federal government has to invoke the Defense Production Act and therefore could not have prepared for the pandemic the way he said the Trump administration could have. 

“There’s no way that we can stockpile in anticipation of a pandemic that no one anticipated, and yet the federal government is responsible for doing precisely that,” Pritzker said. 

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“And we now know that intelligence sources and all the best advice that was given, was given in January and early February to the president and the White House, and they seemed to not have acted at all upon it,” he added. 

Pritzker said that the Trump administration should have prepared by invoking the Defense Production Act earlier and building ventilators in anticipation of the looming need. 

The governor added that “we would not have the same problems we have today, and frankly very many fewer people would die” if the federal government had done so.