A handful of Senate Democrats are officially calling for an immediate independent investigation into corrupt political inference in the Strategic National Stockpile on behalf of Donald Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner.
In a letter to Principal Deputy Inspector General Christi Grimm, Sens. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Ed Markey (D-MA), Mazie Hirono (D-HI) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) said, “We write to request that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Inspector General (OIG) immediately initiate an independent investigation into potential improper interference in the management of the Strategic National Stockpile to advance a political agenda.”
The group of Democratic lawmakers said the goal of such an investigation is to determine “whether political appointees in the Trump administration directed the improper use of public resources on behalf Jared Kushner or other political appointees”
The rest of the letter:
Early this morning on April 3, 2020, an unidentified entity, at the direction of an unidentified source, swiftly deleted the description of the Strategic National Stockpile as, “…the nation’s largest supply of life-saving pharmaceuticals and medical supplies for use in a public health emergency severe enough to cause local supplies to run out,” and deleted the reference to the fact that one of the purposes of maintaining a Federal Strategic National Stockpile is so that, “When state, local, tribal, and territorial responders request federal assistance to support their response efforts, the stockpile ensures that the right medicines and supplies get to those who need them most during an emergency. Organized for scalable response to a variety of public health threats, this repository contains enough supplies to respond to multiple large-scale emergencies simultaneously.”
This inaccurate deletion distorts the public’s understanding of the purpose of the Strategic National Stockpile and violates principles of good and honest government, including transparency, faithful execution of the agency’s mission and most importantly, advancing the public interest. The timing of the deletion appears related to Jared Kushner’s inaccurate statement yesterday that, “And the notion of the Federal stockpile was it’s supposed to be our stockpile; it’s not supposed to be State stockpiles that they then use.”
Accordingly, we request that HHS OIG launch an investigation – either as a separate inquiry or as an additional component of a comprehensive investigation into broad mismanagement of the Strategic National Stockpile – to determine whether political appointees in the Trump administration directed the improper use of public resources on behalf Jared Kushner or other political appointees to alter information on an official Federal agency government website. We thank you in advance for your consideration of our request.
‘It’s supposed to be our stockpile’
The call for an investigation comes after Jared Kushner gave a bizarre explanation for what he believed was the purpose of the Strategic National Stockpile.
“The notion of the federal stockpile was it’s supposed to be our stockpile,” Trump’s completely unqualified son-in-law said. “It’s not supposed to be states’ stockpiles that they then use.”
Shortly after Kushner’s remarks, the HHS website was edited to reflect his statement that the Strategic National Stockpile is not for the states – another move by this White House that could have been pulled from George Orwell’s 1984.
Ultimately, the Trump administration’s failed response to this health emergency has made the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S. much worse and more deadly.
Instead of rushing resources to the states immediately, they continue to withhold them so they can then blame governors for the worsening health and economic crises unfolding across the country.
Sean Colarossi currently resides in Cleveland, Ohio. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and was an organizing fellow for both of President Obama’s presidential campaigns. He also worked with Planned Parenthood as an Affordable Care Act Outreach Organizer in 2014, helping northeast Ohio residents obtain health insurance coverage.