President Trump waged a full-scale political attack on New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, complete with opposition research, as he pointed out that Cuomo could have bought more ventilators five years ago to protect his state against a pandemic.
Trump appeared on Fox News Channel Tuesday from the White House Rose Garden and handed anchor Bill Hemmer an article, ‘It says New York Gov. Cuomo rejected buying recommended 16,000 ventilators in 2015 for the pandemic, for a pandemic, establish death panels and lotteries instead,’ Trump said.
‘So he had a chance to buy in 2015, 16,000 ventilators at a very low price and he turned it down,’ Trump reiterated. ‘I’m not blaming him or anything else, but he shouldn’t be talking about us – he’s supposed to be buying his own ventilators.’
President Trump went to political war Tuesday against New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo after the governor complained about Trump being reluctant to use the Defense Production Act to get him more ventilators
During a Rose Garden sit-down with Fox News Channel, President Trump (second from right) told Fox’s Bill Hemmer (right) that Cuomo could have bought 16,000 more ventilators in 2015, but chose not to – and it was the governor’s responsibility to get the machines
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday that he needed the federal government to up its response to deal with the shortage of ventilators in the New York City area
President Trump (left) handed oppo research about New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to Fox News Channel’s Bill Hemmer (right) during the course of their interview Tuesday in the White House Rose Garden
Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday that New York needed 30,000 ventilators to deal with the coronavirus crisis, which has hit New York City especially hard. He’s procured 7,000 ventilators so far
Trump was washing his hands of any responsibility for New York’s current ventilator shortage, as the New York City area currently has the highest rate of coronavirus cases in the country.
During a press conference Tuesday, Cuomo said that the state has procured 7,000 ventilators, but needs at a minimum of 30,000 ventilators in the next 14 days.
‘Only the federal government has that power. And not to exercise that power is inexplicable to me,’ said Cuomo, a Democrat. ‘Volunteerism is nice and it is a beautiful thing and it is nice that these companies are coming forward and saying they want to help. That is not going to get us there.’
‘And I do not, for the life of me, understand the reluctance to use the Federal Defense Production act,’ Cuomo added, aiming the comments at Trump.
On Sunday, Trump suggested it was his Republican instincts – to keep the federal government away from industry – that was motivating him not to use it.
‘What are you doing? … You’re going to take away companies? You’re going to tell companies what to do?’ Trump said.
On Tuesday, Trump came armed with a March 18 op-ed written by Betsy McCaughey, the lieutenant governor of New York under Republican George Pataki.
McCaughey is also Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross’ ex-wife.
McCaughey points a finger at Cuomo and wrote that after he learned that the state was 16,000 ventilators shy of what it would need in a ‘severe pandemic’ the Democrat chose to ‘assemble a task force and draft rules for rationing the ventilators they already had.’
Though she doesn’t use the words ‘death panels’ as the president charged, she does say that New Yorkers would encounter a ‘death officer,’ who would decide whether or not they’d have access to a ventilator.
A report from November 2015 said that New York stockpiled enough ventilators ‘in the face of a moderate scenario,’ adding there were ‘no current plans to buy enough ventilators for the most severe model’ of a pandemic response.
‘The State’s current approach to stockpiling a limited number of ventilators balances the need to prepare for a potential pandemic against the need to maintain adequate funding for current and ongoing health care expenses,’ the report said.
During the Fox News Channel town hall, Trump said that Cuomo should be grateful that the federal government has stepped in and helped to build New York additional medical facilities.
‘We’re building him hospitals, we’re building him medical centers and he was complaining about – we’re doing probably, definitely more than anybody else – and he was talking about the ventilators,’ Trump said.
President Trump brought up Cuomo again when Dr. Deborah Birx (left) was explaining why New York City was seeing the highest concentration of coronavirus cases
Birx explained that a number of factors were likely involved including people picking it up during subway travel, visitors returning from Asia and Europe and the fact that New York is ‘a big area of world trade and global transit’
He brought up Cuomo again when Dr. Deborah Birx, one of the leaders of the White House’s coronavirus taskforce, was explaining to the Fox News Channel audience why New York is seeing the most cases.
‘Across the country our test rates are under 10 per cent, except for one place – New York City, metro New York, New Jersey close to New York City,’ Birx said. ‘Those rates are coming in the 28 per cent range.’
Hemmer asked her if it was because of urban density.
‘I think part of it is density, part of it is the spread that may have happened on metal surfaces like the subway … part of it may be a large number of people came back after Christmas from Asia that didn’t get caught up in the closure,’ she explained.
Trump then interrupted.
‘Do you blame the governor for that?’ he mused.
‘And part of it could be the Europeans who have com back subsquently,’ she added.
‘Obviously it is a big area of world trade and global transit,’ the doctor said. ‘So I think the virus was quietly expanding because until it gets into an older population you don’t really see it in the same way.’