Screenshot, Axios on HBO

If you've got a problem, Jared Kushner can make it worse. And America has a big problem.

Vanity Fair's gossip pipeline continues to flow during the pandemic, and it traces the president's shit tweeting this morning about states who dare to "complain" about lack of medical supplies — "Some have insatiable appetites & are never satisfied (politics?)." — back to Jared and one of his infamous book reports.

"This was a total mess," Kushner told people, according to VF. "I know how to make this government run now." So Jared, who faults HHS Secretary Alex Azar for leaving Trump politically exposed with his handling of the whole ICKY DEAD PEOPLE VIRUS thing, swung into action. Never mind that Azar tried to get Trump's attention about coronavirus in throughout January and February, only to get reprimanded for letting the CDC's Dr. Nancy Messonier spook the markets with all her gloom and doom about dead Americans. Clearly this shit is all on Alex!

That's how we got Jared's shadow coronavirus task force, which looks to such trusted sources as his brother Josh's father-in-law's Facebook friends for disease prevention strategies. That's why we're all gonna die.


Okay, time to MBA the shit out of this whole mechanical-breathing-machine-so-you-don't-drown-in-your-own-lung-secretions problem!

Kushner encouraged Trump to push back against New York governor Andrew Cuomo after Cuomo gave an emotional press conference during which he said New York was short 30,000 ventilators. In a White House meeting around this time, Kushner told people that Cuomo was being an alarmist. "I have all this data about ICU capacity. I'm doing my own projections, and I've gotten a lot smarter about this. New York doesn't need all the ventilators," Kushner said, according to a person present. During an interview on Hannity on March 26, Trump said: "I don't believe you need 40,000 or 30,000 ventilators."

Are you wondering why we're not centralizing the production of medical supplies to prevent the individual states and FEMA bidding against each other for scarce ventilators and personal protective equipment? It's because Jared Kushner, who was born on third base and spent his entire life thinking he hit a home run, believes every problem can be solved if "elites" just put their heads together and collaborate without those annoying experts and IRL stakeholders getting in the way. Or, as VF puts it, "Kushner has advocated for his usual, iconoclastic public-private approach, drawing on business contacts."

Politico reports that "Kushner has even obtained a new center of power at the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the crisis-response organization that's taken over coronavirus strategy and planning -- and where Kushner and his deputies ride herd on the health agencies that had been criticized for their slow responses to the pandemic earlier this year." Because what those eggheads need is Kush's "former roommate and a suite of McKinsey consultants" to tell them what's really going on.

Who needs the Defense Production Act when you have Mr. Iconoclasm negotiating to produce what he and his wholly uninformed buddies deem to be "enough" ventilators and masks for each state? What could possibly go wrong with states being told to compete against each other for desperately needed medical supplies? The invisible hand of the market will provide!

Although, Politico points out, there might be one or two tiny glitches with Kush letting his pals in the business world direct the government's pandemic response.

Yet the co-mingling of administration aides and private-sector executives has led to new quandaries, according to health officials and even some of the outside advisers working with Kushner. Projects are so decentralized that one team often has little idea what others are doing — outside of that they all report up to Kushner. People around Kushner are fielding all manner of outside pitches, making it difficult for the group to stay focused.

KEWL.

And now that Hope Hicks is back to babysit and keep Trump on-message, he's going to be so freakin' presidential the country will forget all about those two months of downplaying the danger of coronavirus. Especially now that he and Kush have grokked the real danger, they're totally ready to message this pandemic thing into submission.

"The polling sucked. The campaign panicked about the numbers in red states. They don't expect to win states that are getting blown to pieces with coronavirus," a former West Wing official told [Gabe Sherman]. From the beginning of the crisis, Trump had struggled to see it as anything other than a political problem, subject to his usual arsenal of tweets and attacks and bombast. But he ultimately realized that as bad as the stock market was, getting coronavirus wrong would end his presidency. "The campaign doesn't matter anymore," he recently told a friend, "what I do now will determine if I get reelected."

Priorities!

But if there's a silver lining to all this fuckery, it's that at least Stephanie Grisham is getting shut out of the process, such as it is. With Hopey back in town, VF says there's no seat for Grish at the cool kids' table and she's back defending Melania's Marie Antoinette malapropisms. Which is fine, since she never left that job in the first place.

Don't worry, you guys, Kush is going to do for coronavirus exactly what he did for opioids, the Middle East, and information technology. That's right, he's going to do FUCK ALL and demand a gold medal for it. Please clap.

[VF / Politico]

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Liz Dye

Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.

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