Wyden, Merkley Call for Broad Investigations of the Trump Administration’s COVID-19 Response

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley today called for investigations into the Trump Administration’s COVID-19 response, including whether political expediency rather than urgent public health needs has driven the distribution of life-saving medical supplies and equipment and other key public health and economic decisions.

The letter from Wyden, Merkley and eight other senators to the Inspectors General for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) noted that the Trump administration has been unable to deliver urgently-needed personal protective equipment (PPE) and ventilators. And they said the administration has created confusion and distress among states by seizing equipment orders and providing little transparency about decision-making.

The senators wrote that the administration appears to have made decisions about distributing life-saving supplies based on the electoral concerns of Trump and his political allies rather than the most urgent public health needs. The senators also raised concerns about Jared Kushner’s involvement in Project Airbridge and evidence he may have fast-tracked shipments at the requests of donors and other friends.

“This confusion has been exacerbated by President Trump’s public statements suggesting that governors’ political support for his administration could influence how much support they receive from the federal government,” the lawmakers wrote in their letter. “This obfuscation underscores the need for clarity as to how decisions regarding the seizure and redistribution of supplies are being made, and whether or not they are tainted with political interference.”

In addition to Wyden and Merkley, others signing the letter led by U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) include Sens. Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.).

A copy of the entire letter is here.

A web version of this release is here.