NYT: Newsom told he had to ask and thank Trump to get help with COVID-19 response

According to a report from the NY Times, California Governor Gavin Newsom (D-CA) was told by White House officials he needed to personally appeal to President Trump and thank him if he wanted help in obtaining coronavirus test swabs.

Joe Scarborough tweeted the story and a quote from it.

“Gavin Newsom of California was told that if he wanted the federal government to help obtain the swabs needed to test for the virus, he would have to ask Mr. Trump himself — and thank him.”

From the DailyBeast:

California Gov. Gavin Newsom was told by the White House at the height of the coronavirus pandemic that he’d have to personally appeal to and express gratitude to President Donald Trump if he wanted the federal government to help his state get swabs for COVID-19 testing, The New York Times reports. Sources cited by the Times say it was White House adviser Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law, who voiced the apparent quid pro quo in April.

Kushner reportedly told one of Newsom’s advisers that the administration could aid in getting 350,000 swabs for the state if the governor would call up Trump and personally request his assistance.

“The governor of California, Gavin Newsom, had to call Donald Trump, and ask him for the swabs,” Bob Kocher, an adviser to Newsom and former White House health care official under Obama, told the Times.

Newsom, who was also reportedly told he would have to thank the president, held a press conference later that same day where he credited Trump with the “substantial increase in supply.”

TheHill reports the move was part of a deliberate decision by the Trump administration in mid-April when the White House, deciding the pandemic was on the downslope, decided it had given state governments all the aid they would need to handle any further outbreaks, the Times reported.

Deborah Birx, the chief coordinator for the White House’s coronavirus task force, told officials on April 11 that while Boston and Chicago were nearing their peak, other hard-hit cities were on the other side of the crisis. Birx was consistently more optimistic than her colleague and friend Anthony Fauci, telling the task force the virus had hit its peak in mid-April and appearing open to the idea that some death and hospitalization counts could be inflated.

Administration and state officials told the Times that Birx played a greater role than previously known in the White House’s public position that the virus was on the decline and that the models she used for the assessment did not properly capture how Trump’s eagerness to quickly return to normal would undermine social distancing measures.

She frequently characterized the task ahead after she said the virus had peaked was “putting out the embers,” phrasing White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany and the president would later adopt.