Jared Kushner‘s volunteer committee charged with securing critical personal protective equipment (PPE) for hospitals gave priority to requests from Fox News hosts and other major supporters of Donald Trump, new reports claim.
The report from The Washington Post said that those working on the committee were told to fast-track inquiries from entities who were classified as “VIPs,” a group that included Fox News personalities Jeanine Pirro and Brian Kilmeade. The report noted that Kilmeade had reached out with a lead on how to get PPE that he thought could be helpful and Pirro made a pitch for a specific hospital in New York to get what she said would be a “large quantity of masks.”
These leads were not necessarily better than those coming from others in the medical field or with knowledge of medical supply chains, but Kushner’s committee members were reportedly told to prioritize the requests.
The claim by The Washington Post appears to be backed by a report from The New York Times that noted Kushner’s team — which was made up of “foot soldiers in the Trump administration’s new supply-chain task force” — had very little experience in government procurement procedures. The New York Times report also stated these volunteers were told to prioritize tips from political allies and close associates of Trump. These leads were apparently kept separate from other tips on a spreadsheet called “V.I.P. Update.”
Those on the VIP list included Republican members of Congress, a former contestant on The Apprentice who now serves as a campaign chair for the group Women for Trump, and conservative activist Charlie Kirk.
A memo sent by a whistleblower to the House Oversight Committee said that very few of the leads panned out, whether they came from the so-called “VIPs” or elsewhere.
“The nature and scale of the response seemed grossly inadequate,” one of the volunteers working with Kushner’s group told The New York Times. “It was bureaucratic cycles of chaos.”
Trump has frequently been criticized for appointing Kushner to lead important White House initiatives, despite his lack of experience in foreign policy or diplomacy. Kushner has held several top posts on international efforts and was reportedly the point person for an arms deal with Saudi Arabia that closed in 2018.
Trump’s administration has also been criticized for failing to properly prepare for the coronavirus outbreak, with the president spending several weeks downplaying the severity of the outbreak when critics said his administration should have been stockpiling critical medical supplies and equipment.