Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said he was “just appalled” by a letter he received from President Donald Trump on Thursday. Trump’s communication was in response to a letter Schumer had sent earlier on Thursday, which called the White House’s response to the coronavirus pandemic “a patchwork of uncoordinated voluntary efforts.”
Schumer is the senior senator from New York, one of the states hardest hit by the virus. Both New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo repeatedly asked for medical equipment and funding as the virus spread through the state, including a request for upwards of 30,000 ventilators.
In his letter, Schumer suggested “a data-driven, organized and robust plan from the federal government” was the only to resolve the difficulty states have reported in obtaining medical equipment.
“While companies that volunteer to produce ventilators and PPE are to be commended and are appreciated, America cannot rely on a patchwork of uncoordinated voluntary efforts to combat the awful magnitude of this pandemic,” read Schumer’s letter to Trump. “It is long past the time for your Administration to designate a senior military officer to fix this urgent problem. That officer should be given full authority under the Defense Production Act (DPA) to complete and rapidly implement a plan for the increased production, procurement and distribution of critically-needed medical devices and equipment.”
Trump latched onto Schumer’s comments in his response, writing that Rear Admiral John Polowczyk had already been placed in that position.
“[Polowczyk] is working 24 hours a day, and is highly respected by everyone,” Trump wrote. “If you remember, my team gave you this information, but for public relations purposes, you choose to ignore it.”
Trump also said Schumer’s involvement with the impeachment proceedings against Trump impacted his state’s readiness.
“If you spent less time on your ridiculous impeachment hoax,” Trump said, “which went hopelessly 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.'”
“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 added.
On MSNBC Thursday night, Schumer told All In host Chris Hayes that he had explained the concerns expressed in his letter to the president during a conversation.
“And the result is this letter,” Schumer said Thursday.
“And so I’m just appalled,” Schumer continued. “You know, I’d say to the president: just stop the pettinesspeople are dyingand so, President Trump, we need leadership. We need to get the job done. Stop the pettiness. Let’s get it done. Let’s roll up our sleeves.”
Schumer added that he sent the letter to Trump “with the best of intentions trying to improve a very bad situation.”
According to information sent to Newsweek from Schumer’s office, Trump said he would attempt to prevent the letter from going out and would apologize to Schumer if he were unable to prevent the letter from being released.
Recent data indicated 93,053 positive cases of coronavirus in New York, making it the state with the most U.S. coronavirus cases.
Governor Cuomo said at a news briefing on Thursday that New York could potentially run out of viable ventilators in less than a week.
“If a person comes in and needs a ventilator and you don’t have a ventilator,” Cuomo said, “the person dies. That’s the blunt equation here. And right now we have a burn rate that would suggest we have about six days in the stockpile.”
Trump announced Thursday during the daily coronavirus task force briefing at the White House that FEMA was in the process of delivering 4,400 ventilators to New York. However, Trump told Sean Hannity of Fox News in March that he didn’t “believe you need 40,000 or 30,000 ventilators.”
“You go into major hospitals sometimes, and they’ll have two ventilators,” Trump continued. “And now all of a sudden they’re saying, ‘Can we order 30,000 ventilators?'”