Report: Kushner predicted N.Y. would ‘suffer’, and ‘that’s their problem’
White House senior adviser Jared Kushner coldly informed a group of business leaders earlier this year that the state of New York would “suffer” with COIVD-19, adding: “That’s their problem,” sources told Vanity Fair.
The shocking comment was one of several in the article exposing Kushner’s dismissive, compassion-challenged attitude about the rapacious pandemic that as of Saturday has claimed close to 200,000 lives in the U.S., including more than 33,000 in New York.
He made the comments at a meeting with business leaders he hosted at the White House ― some were online ― on March 21, according to Vanity Fair, when President Donald Trump already knew how lethal COVID-19 was.
A number of people attending the meeting told the magazine that they were “stunned” by Kushner’s chilly attitude about the suffering and death facing Americans.
When one business representative brought up the devastating problems states were having obtaining adequate personal protective equipment — including face masks, gloves and gowns for medical workers — Kushner reportedly responded: “Free markets will solve this. That is not the role of government.”
As the COVID death toll continued to mount, states were left to fend for themselves with no federal management and little aid. Many states ended Many ended up competing with one another for desperately needed supplies, driving up prices. In some cases, they competed with the federal government, which snatched supplies ordered by states — or instructed vendors not to do business with certain states — to channel them elsewhere.
According to the article, when the same business leader said he feared the market was failing to deliver medical supplies, he said Kushner responded: “That’s the CNN bullshit. They lie.”
Related: Jared Kushner through the years
36 PHOTOSJared Kushner through the yearsSee GalleryJared Kushner through the yearsUNITED STATES – AUGUST 08:Jared Kushner attends the New York premiere of ‘Factotum’ at the IFC Center Theater.(Photo by Richard Corkery/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)NEW YORK CITY, NY – JUNE 16: Laura Englander and Jared Kushner attend The Partnership for Public Service’s Third Annual Black Tie Gala Honoring John McCain with ‘The Theodore Roosevelt Award for the Advancement of Public Service’ at Waldorf-Astoria on June 16, 2005 in New York City. (Photo by Jimi Celeste/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)Jared Kushner during Miss Potter New York Premiere – Inside Arrivals at DGA Theater in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by Lawrence Lucier/FilmMagic)NEW YORK CITY, NY – MAY 8: Mort Zuckerman and Jared Kushner attend TIME Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People 2007 at Jazz at Lincoln Center on May 8, 2007 in New York City. (Photo by PATRICK MCMULLAN/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)NEW YORK CITY, NY – JUNE 14: (L-R) Jerry Della Famina, Matthew Weiner and Jared Kushner attend AMC Hosts a Special Preview and Discussion of Their Provocative New Series ‘MAD MEN’ at Michael’s on June 14, 2007 in New York City. (Photo by JIMI CELESTE/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)Michael Moore and Jared Kushner during ‘Sicko’ New York City Premiere – Reception at Ziegfeld Theater in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by Jamie McCarthy/WireImage for The Weinstein Company)NEW YORK – SEPTEMBER 24:Owner of the New York Observer Jared Kushner arrives at The Metropolitan Opera’s Opening Night at Lincoln Center September 24, 2007 in New York City.(Photo by Amy Sussman/Getty Images for Metropolitan Opera)NEW YORK CITY, NY – SEPTEMBER 9: (L-R) Ivanka Trump, Narciso Rodriguez and Jared Kushner attend Afterparty for the NARCISO RODRIGUEZ Spring/Summer 2008 Collection at Gramercy Park Hotel on September 9, 2007 in New York City. (Photo by JOE SCHILDHORN/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)NEW YORK CITY, NY – MARCH 13: vanka Trump (in Elie Saab and Ivanka Trump Fine Jewelry) and Jared Kushner attend The Young Fellows of The Frick Collection, with ELIE SAAB and IVANKA TRUMP Fine Jewelry present a gala ‘Un Ballo in Maschera’ at The Frick Collection on March 13, 2008 in New York City. (Photo by DAVID X PRUTTING/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)BEDMINSTER, NJ – OCTOBER, 25:In this handout image provided by Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump (R) and Jared Kushner (L) attend their wedding at Trump National Golf Club on October 25, 2009 in Bedminster, New Jersey. (Photo Brian Marcus/Fred Marcus Photography via Getty Images) ï¿½2010 RAMEY PHOTO August 19, 2010 – Porto Cervo – Sardinia Ivanka Trump,the daughter of Ivana and Donald Trump, is spending a few days on holiday with her husband Jared Kushner. CPE/MB (Photo by Philip Ramey/Corbis via Getty Images)Jared Kushner, Owner of New York Observer and Kai Madison Trump attend the 4th annual Eric Trump Foundation Golf Invitational at the Trump National Golf Club Westchester on September 14, 2010 in Briarcliff Manor, New York.NEW YORK – NOVEMBER 18: Jared Kushner speaks at the FINCA 25th Anniversary Creating Pathways Out of Poverty event at Capitale Bowery on November 18, 2010 in New York City. (Photo by Joe Corrigan/Getty Images for FINCA)NEW YORK, NY – MARCH 09:Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump attend the COMEDY CENTRAL Roast of Donald Trump at the Hammerstein Ballroom on March 9, 2011 in New York City.(Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)NEW YORK, NY – APRIL 17:Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump attend the Vanity Fair Party during the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival at the State Supreme Courthouse on April 17, 2012 in New York City.(Photo by Jim Spellman/WireImage)DORAL, FL – MARCH 07: Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump and Eric Trump attend the Carolina Herrera Fashion Show with GREY GOOSE Vodka at the Cadillac Championship at Trump National Doral on March 7, 2014 in Doral, Florida. (Photo by John Parra/Getty Images for GREY GOOSE)BRIARCLIFF MANOR, NY – SEPTEMBER 15: Lara Yunaska and Jared Kushner attend The Eric Trump 8th Annual Golf Tournamentat Trump National Golf Club Westchester on September 15, 2014 in Briarcliff Manor, New York.(Photo by Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images)NEW YORK, NY – MAY 04:Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump attend the ‘China: Through The Looking Glass’ Costume Institute Benefit Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 4, 2015 in New York City.(Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)NEW YORK, NY – MARCH 26:Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner are seen on March 26, 2016 in New York City.(Photo by Tal Rubin/GC Images)NEW YORK, NY – SEPTEMBER 11: Ivanka Trump and husband Jared Kushner attend the men’s final between Novack Djokovic of Serbia and Stan Wawrinka of Switzerland at Arthur Ashe Stadium on day 14 of the 2016 US Open at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 11, 2016 in the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Jean Catuffe/GC Images)Ivanka Trump (L) and husband Jared Kushner are seen at a polling station in a school during the 2016 presidential elections on November 8, 2016 in New York. / AFP / MANDEL NGAN(Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)(FromL) Ivanka Trump, her husband Jared Kushner and Tiffany Trump smile as Republican presidential elect Donald Trump speaks during election night at the New York Hilton Midtown in New York on November 9, 2016. Trump stunned America and the world Wednesday, riding a wave of populist resentment to defeat Hillary Clinton in the race to become the 45th president of the United States. / AFP / MANDEL NGAN(Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)NEW YORK, NY – NOVEMBER 18:Jared Kushner, the son-in-law of President-elect Donald Trump, walks through the lobby of Trump Tower with his wife Ivanka on November 18, 2016 in New York City. President-elect Trump and his transition team are in the process of filling cabinet and other high level positions for the new administration.(Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)NEW YORK, NY – DECEMBER 7: Jared Kushner sits in Vice President-elect Mike Pence’s car outside of Trump Tower, December 7, 2016 in New York City. President-elect Donald Trump and his transition team are in the process of filling cabinet and other high level positions for the new administration. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)White House senior advisor Jared Kushner (2nd L) smiles at his wife Ivanka Trump as she is mentioned by Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during his remarks at the Yad Vashem holocaust memorial in Jerusalem May 23, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan ErnstWhite House senior advisor Jared Kushner arrives to join U.S. President Donald Trump and the rest of the U.S. delegation to meet with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud at the Royal Court in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia May 20, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan ErnstIvanka Trump, daughter of US President Donald Trump, her husband Jared Kushner, senior adviser to Trump step off Air Force One upon arrival at Rome’s Fiumicino Airport on May 23, 2017. Donald Trump arrived in Rome for a high-profile meeting with Pope Francis in what was his first official trip to Europe since becoming US President. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN(Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)Jared Kushner is seen at the Royal Court after US President Donald Trump received the Order of Abdulaziz al-Saud medal in Riyadh on May 20, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN(Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)BAGHDAD, IRAQ – APRIL 03: In this handout provided by the Department of Defense (DoD), Jared Kushner, Senior Advisor to President Donald J. Trump, speaks with Lt. Gen. Stephen J. Townsend, commander, Combined Joint Task Force — Operation Inherent Resolve, during a helo ride aboard a CH-47 over Baghdad, Iraq, April 3, 2017. (Photo by Dominique A. Pineiro/DoD via Getty Images)QAYYARAH WEST, IRAQ – APRIL 04: In this handout provided by the Department of Defense (DoD), Jared Kushner, Senior Advisor to President Donald J. Trump meets with Service Members at a forward operating base near Qayyarah West in Iraq, April 4, 2017. (Photo by Dominique A. Pineiro/DoD via Getty Images)WASHINGTON, DC – MARCH 17:U.S. President Donald Trump (C) walks along the West Wing colonnade with his daughter Ivanka Trump (L) and his son-in-law and Senior Advisor to the President for Strategic Planning Jared Kushner before he departs the White House March 17, 2017 in Washington, DC. The first family is scheduled to spend the weekend at their Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida.(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)Senior Advisor to the President, Jared Kushner (L), walks with his wife Ivanka Trump to board Marine One at the White House in Washington, DC, on March 3, 2017.The two are travelling with US President Donald Trump to Florida. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN(Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)U.S. President Donald Trump, center, speaks while Jared Kushner, senior White House advisor, left, and Kenneth Frazier, chairman and chief executive officer of Merck & Co., listen during a meeting with manufacturing executives in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Feb. 23, 2017. Trump told some of America’s most prominent corporate executives that he intends to put them to work restoring manufacturing jobs and U.S. dominance in trade. Photographer: Olivier Douliery/Bloomberg via Getty ImagesWASHINGTON, DC – JANUARY 30: Jared Kushner, senior adviser to President Donald Trump, listens during a meeting with small business leaders in the Roosevelt room at the White House in Washington, DC on Monday, Jan. 30, 2017. 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Trump’s son-in-law then reportedly complained that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) “didn’t pound the phones hard enough to get PPE for his state … His people are going to suffer and that’s their problem.”
Kushner added, “The federal government is not going to lead this response. It’s up to the states to figure out what they want to do.”
Unlike the Trump administration, the business community was eager to take action and help the nation weather COVID-19, those attending the meeting told Kushner. They were prepared to pull out the stops and crank up production, even reconfiguring manufacturing to make different products. But Kushner was not interested, a source told Vanity Fair.
Kushner stunned the public the following month when he announced that the federal emergency stockpile of medial supplies wasn’t meant for the states — raising the question of who the supplies were intended to serve.
“The notion of the federal stockpile was it’s supposed to be our stockpile,” Kushner said. “It’s not supposed to be states’ stockpiles that they then use.”
Kushner’s attitude has been perfectly in sync with Trump’s. The president has frequently signaled that states bear the major burden in dealing with the pandemic ― particularly the Democratic states — rather than the federal government. He announced in May he was winding down his coronavirus task force and has repeatedly insisted that COVID will simply vanish. But he has known nearly from the beginning how deadly serious the pandemic was, and decided to “downplay” it, Trump admitted in recently revealed taped conversations with journalist Bob Woodward.
In comments earlier this week Trump said that the COVID death toll would be lower ― and thus his administration’s response to the health crisis more impressive ― if “you take the blue states out.”
One of those attending the White House meeting said it seemed “very clear” Kushner was less interested in finding a solution because, at the time, the virus was primarily ravaging cities in blue states, according to the Vanity Fair article
“We were flabbergasted,” he said. “I basically had an out-of-body experience [wondering]: Where am I, and what happened to America?”
Five of the 10 states with the highest death tolls were carried by Trump in 2016.
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany told Vanity Fair that its story was “another inaccurate and disgusting partisan hit job.”
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