In early March, Jared Kushner took the lead on a secret task force to develop a comprehensive plan to coordinate massive coronavirus testing at a federal level. Sometime in April, Donald Trump and Kushner abandon the project so Democrat-led states fighting COVID-19 hotspots can be blamed for the virus.
Inside the White House, over much of March and early April, Kushner’s handpicked group of young business associates, which included a former college roommate, teamed up with several top experts from the diagnostic-testing industry. Together, they hammered out the outline of a national testing strategy. The group—working night and day, using the encrypted platform WhatsApp—emerged with a detailed plan obtained by Vanity Fair.
The program that the task force designed would have “set up a system of national oversight and coordination to surge supplies, allocate test kits, lift regulatory and contractual roadblocks, and establish a widespread virus surveillance system by the fall, to help pinpoint subsequent outbreaks.”
Donald Trump was expected to approve and announce the program in early April, but plans changed when he noticed that blue states were hit harder by the virus than red states.
Most troubling of all, perhaps, was a sentiment the expert said a member of Kushner’s team expressed: that because the virus had hit blue states hardest, a national plan was unnecessary and would not make sense politically. “The political folks believed that because it was going to be relegated to Democratic states, that they could blame those governors, and that would be an effective political strategy,” said the expert.
That logic may have swayed Kushner. “It was very clear that Jared was ultimately the decision maker as to what [plan] was going to come out,” the expert said.
Photograph: Public Domain