White House correspondent Jonathan Lemire unloaded on President Donald Trump’s response to the coronavirus crisis.
The Associated Press reporter usually remains reserved on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” even when offering criticism of the president, but Lemire blasted Trump’s leadership during the COVID-19 outbreak.
“It’s caused great frustration from those at the front lines, the mayors and governors across the nation,” Lemire said, addressing the lack of specifics regarding personal protective equipment for medical workers. “Yesterday, as I said, the FEMA head couldn’t say how many masks are being shipped.”
The president has been reluctant to fully invoke the Defense Production Act, Lemire said, because he thinks it’s a socialist policy — although Republican and Democratic governors alike are begging him to push out ventilators and masks.
“Governors and mayors across the nation are asking him to do so,” Lemire said. “There’s a suggestion by some that he is not wanting to fully lean into this because he wants to point the finger elsewhere if the efforts fail. If he doesn’t fully enact it we see him repeatedly shift the onus to the states to come up with these items that they need.”
Trump isn’t able to address the crisis because his advisers are afraid to deliver bad news to him, Lemire said.
“We also know this, part of what’s hampering the issue, why there aren’t the details, partially why that he can’t — the administration hasn’t been able to level with the American public is that his advisors are sometimes afraid to level with him,” Lemire said. “The president is looking through this still with a glass, with rosy glasses, believing this will be over sooner than later, dismissing science health experts, sometimes in meetings, when aides come and suggest, ‘Hey, this is dire, and we’re trying to present to you a realistic sense of how long this can take and how bad it will get’ — he doesn’t want to hear it.”
“He is someone who his whole life has asserted his own sense of reality,” Lemire added. “He creates his own truth. That doesn’t work in this situation, and it may have worked with Page Six and some of the gossip pages and worked to a degree during the campaign, it is not going to work here. That is what alarms so many people in Washington and across the nation.”
Lemire said the president’s late-night tweet shows he still doesn’t understand the depth of this crisis and how long it might last.
“I will point to his tweet last night, late last night, he tweeted, ‘We cannot let the cure be worse than the problem itself, at the end of the 15-day period we’ll make a decision which way to go,'” Lemire said, “which lines up with what we’re starting to hear around him, the belief that he feels these draconian measures to restrict the economy may do more harm than good, even though that flies in the face of the health experts and he’s going to be looking to push to a return it to a normal society far sooner than any health expert or doctor would want.”
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