Donald Trump‘s son-in-law Jared Kushner’s extraordinary behind-the-scenes role as a key figure in the administration’s coronavirus task force is drawing bewilderment from some officials who see a non-health expert exercising authority.

Kushner has brought in former associates and friends as he tries to short-circuit procedures to get medical supplies to states and localities. He has leveled criticism from the White House podium about who makes a ‘competent manager.’ And he has taken a role in one of the central questions of life-saving medical equipment: who should get priority access to precious ventilators.  

A senior administration official involved in meetings about the coronavirus outbreak told the New York Times Kushner’s team was like a ‘frat party” that descended from a U.F.O. and invaded the federal government. 

From the White House, you can move a lot faster,” he said. “I’ve put members of my team into a lot of components. What we’ve been able to do is get people very quick answers.” 

White House senior adviser Jared Kushner lectured governors pushing for medical equipment during a White House briefing room appearance. An unnamed official described his team as a ‘frat party’ descended from a UFO

The figures Kushner has involved in order to expedite requests for equipment include friends and associates from his time as a senior White House aide and as a player in New York real estate. They include Kushner’s former roomate Adam Boehler, the head of an international finance agency, and Brad Smith, who leads an innovation center at the Center of Medicare and Medicaid Services. According to his CMS bio, Harvard grad Smith ‘was the Co-Founder and CEO of Aspire Health, which he grew from an idea into the nation’s largest home-based palliative care provider operating in 25 states and over 70 cities.’ The paper also identified software entrepreneur Nat Turner as part of Kushner’s improvised team. 

The Kushner effort comes as governors around the country have been publicly and privately begging for medical equipment as some hospitals begin to be overrun with patients. 

He has stepped in as the coronavirus outbreak hits close to home, with New York and New Jersey seeing a spike in cases, even as his father in law has offered conflicting information about whether the situation is contained or dire, sunny pronouncements about having enough equipment available, and threats to use government powers to force manufacturers to make more of it. 

Jared Kushner has worked to expedite requests for gear – but some officials have grumbled his role adds an extra layer of confusion

White House adviser Jared Kushner attends a teleconference with governors at the Federal Emergency Management Agency headquarters From left, President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf, White House coronavirus response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx and Adm. Brett Giroir, assistant secretary for health and Kushner on March 19, 2020 in Washington, DC

Kushner has taken leading roles in numerous areas, including a Mideast peace proposal

Kushner spoke about procuring medical equipment at the White House Thursday

An official compared Kushner’s team to a ‘frat praty’

Kushner gave a window into the type of assignments he is carrying out at the White House Thursday.

‘Got a call from the president, he told me he was hearing from friends of his in New York that the New York public hospital system was running low on critical supplies,’ Kushner told reporters while the president looked on.

He said he made a series of calls to officials and said the result was the administration would ‘send a month of supply.’

‘We’ll be doing similar things with all the different public hospitals that are in the hot spot zones,’ he said.

With states desperately bidding against each other for medical gear and pleading for supplies – Washington, D.C. said it got zero ventilators from the stockpile – Kushner said Thursday: ‘The notion of the federal stockpile was it’s supposed to be our stockpile. It’s not supposed to be states stockpiles that they then use.’

He also lectured governors, explaining that some ask for the precious gear without even knowing how many machines they have on hand.

He said that governors should know ‘the number of how many ventilators they have in their state because that’s the first thing a good manager will do.’ 

‘You have to take inventory in your state, and you have to be able to prove that there’s a real need,’ Kushner said. 

‘This is a time of crisis, and you’re seeing certain people are better managers than others,’ Kushner said.

House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Rep. Benny Thompson – who is calling for a special commission to probe the coronavirus response – publicly criticized Kushner’s role.

‘FEMA was brought into the response to provide logistics support and the White House should let them do their work. There is no reason for Jared or any other inexperienced person to be getting in the way of that,’ he told the Times. 

Jared Kushner’s taskforce is like ‘a frat party’ which descended from a UFO

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