White House deputy press secretary Judd Deere broke with usual Trump spokesman tradition to actually put his own name to his quote, sniffing to RealClearPolitics that Pritzker “through ignorance or incompetence or a propensity to politicize” was simply wrong when Pritzker told CNN his state had gotten “very little help” and that he’d “given up on any promises that had been made” by Trump.
Despite this rare moment of evidence that the “White House press office” is a thing that still exists, however, those insults appear to be the sum total of Team Trump’s argument against Pritzker. On the core point—that the states are now on their own, and that Trump won’t be helping after publicly promising a series of things that all collapsed quickly afterwards—even Trump himself is in agreement. The governors are on their own, Trump says, with regard to testing. They’re on their own when it comes to getting supplies, with Jared Kushner’s “federal stockpile” acting only as indecipherably-managed backup. They’re on their own when it comes to making reopening decisions, because Trump wants it on someone else’s head if those decisions turn out to be wrong.
The worst thing, though, is that Pritzker is not wrong in his fears that Team Trump would actively try to confiscate medical supplies his state was ordering. Federal officials stepped in to buy 500 much-needed ventilators out from under Colorado state officials, only to showily announce that they would be providing just 100 of those ventilators to the state by request of a Trump-allied Republican senator. Supplies have been “confiscated” in foreign airports and U.S. ports by unidentified federal interlopers.
Rather than provide supplies to the states directly, it appears the Trump administration is instead releasing the acquired emergency supplies to the for-profit private sector, forcing the states to compete with each other in bidding wars to get them.
So Pritzer’s plan to keep state purchases of emergency supplies secret from the federal government, then, seems not just appropriate but necessary. There is no assurance that those flights would not be intercepted, if the federal government knew of them. There is no assurance Illinois would get the supplies back, if so intercepted—at least, not without paying considerably more cash to whatever private company they were redirected towards.
It may be that each of the states begin doing this. It is not just that Trump and his team has been grossly incompetent in the face of crisis; their incompetence allowed the pandemic to spread explosively and has made the crisis worse every step of the way. White House lies have hindered planning efforts, as states are told to expect “4 million tests” or other actions that evaporate into thin air soon afterwards. White House corruption has seemingly prioritized Republican leaders and Republican states for what supplies they were able to muster. Trump’s own personal dishonesty and narcissism has led him to attack governors who have taken strong measures to combat the pandemic’s spread, weakening public trust in those measures and spreading gibbering conspiracy nonsense from his mouth and Twitter feed.
If Republicans will not remove Trump even as his incompetence turns into the cause of death for tens of thousands of Americans—so far—then state governors will have to save Americans behind Trump’s back. If the White House press office wants to snivel about that, they are welcome to do so. Heaven knows nobody else in the building is doing anything useful.