Jared Kushner, a limp, damp string bean of a man who delights in inserting himself into leadership situations where he ends up failing spectacularly, has in recent days been singing the praises of the Trump administration’s abysmal response to the covid-19 pandemic, declaring it a “great success story.” Perhaps he was thinking of his shadow coronavirus task force, which was charged in part with procuring enough supplies for our country’s medical facilities. Based on reporting from the Washington Post and the New York Times, we now know that his task force was not only wildly incompetent but riddled with cronyism, doling out special access and favors to esteemed allies like Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk and Fox News host Jeanine Pirro. What a success.
Kushner, according to reporting, recruited people exactly like him—“young volunteers” who were “drawn from venture capital and private equity firms,” in the words of the New York Times—to staff his task force, which should have been the first sign that this effort, like so many others he has attempted throughout his life, would become an utter and total disaster.
Let’s see how turning this incredibly important work over to a team of Ivy League bros turned out. From the New York Times:
Many of the volunteers were told to prioritize tips from political allies and associates of President Trump, tracked on a spreadsheet called “V.I.P. Update,” according to documents and emails obtained by The New York Times. Among them were leads from Republican members of Congress, the Trump youth activist Charlie Kirk and a former “Apprentice” contestant who serves as the campaign chair of Women for Trump.
Trump allies also pressed FEMA officials directly: A Pennsylvania dentist, once featured at a Trump rally, dropped the president’s name as he pushed the agency to procure test kits from his associates.
Some associates of Mr. Trump sought special treatment from FEMA. In one case, Jeanine Pirro, the Trump stalwart and Fox host, repeatedly contacted task force members and FEMA officials until 100,000 masks were sent to a hospital she favored. Ms. Pirro did not respond to emails seeking comment.
And while valid tips on how to obtain medical equipment were ignored, Kushner’s team of volunteers prioritized leads that likely led to delays and unnecessary deaths. Again, per the New York Times:
At least one tip the volunteers forwarded turned into an expensive debacle. In late March, according to emails obtained by The Times, two of the volunteers passed along procurement forms submitted by Yaron Oren-Pines, a Silicon Valley engineer who said he could provide more than 1,000 ventilators.
Mr. Kushner’s volunteers passed the tip to federal officials who then sent it to senior officials in New York, who assumed Mr. Oren-Pines had been vetted and awarded him an eye-popping $69 million contract. Not a single ventilator was delivered, and New York is now seeking to recover the money.
The work of the task force was so inept that one of the members, who has since left the group, filed a whistleblower complaint to the House Oversight Committee, which was first reported by the Washington Post on Tuesday. In the complaint, the whistleblower listed out all of the issues they observed during their time on the task force, which included, in the words of the New York Times, “frequent changes in process, efforts that turned out to be wasted, [and] poor communication.”
“These problems affect the entire chain of command, hamper our ability to respond and could result in many Americans losing their lives,” they wrote.