Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker Says Trump Doesn't Understand The Word 'Federal' Or His Role In Pandemic

Trump blasted Pritzker, saying he is "always complaining."

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) slammed Donald Trump’s inadequate action in the battle against the COVID-19 crisis, saying the president doesn’t understand the meaning of the word “federal” or the role he is supposed to fulfill.

Trump responded during his Sunday press briefing, saying Pritzker is “always complaining.”

On “State of the Union” Sunday morning, Pritzker told host Jake Tapper that the White House knew about the coming pandemic in January and early February and didn’t prepare.

“If [the Trump administration] had started in February building ventilators, getting ready for this pandemic, we would not have the problems that we have today and frankly, very many fewer people would die,” Pritzker said.

Trump has insisted that states obtain their own supplies, including protective gear like masks and gowns for health-care workers and ventilators for patients, rather than rely on the federal stockpile.

Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and adviser, said last week that supplies in the Strategic National Stockpile were “our” stockpile and not intended for states. This statement was contradicted by the Strategic National Stockpile’s website:

“The Strategic National Stockpile is the nation’s largest supply of life-saving pharmaceuticals and medical supplies for use in a public health emergency severe enough to cause local supplies to run out,” the website read.

“When state, local, tribal and territorial responders request federal assistance to support their response efforts,” it continued, “the stockpile ensures that the right medicines and supplies get to those who need them most during an emergency. Organized for scalable response to a variety of public health threats, this repository contains enough supplies to respond to multiple large-scale emergencies simultaneously.”

The website was later changed to conform to Kushner’s inaccurate claims.

Pritzker said Trump just does not understand the word “federal.”

We have a state Emergency Management Agency, but if [Trump] were right, why would we ever need a Federal Emergency Management Agency?” Pritzker asked. “It’s because individual states can’t possibly do what the federal government can do.”

Pritzker also noted that states lack the power the federal government has to invoke the Defense Production Act and are unable to demand the production of needed supplies the way the Trump administration is able to do.

During his briefing on Sunday, Trump said that in “Illinois, the governor couldn’t do his job, so we had to help him.”

Last week, the Trump administration sent 300,000 surgical masks to Illinois, but they were not the N95 masks needed by health-care workers to deal with coronavirus, Illinois officials said.

Check out Pritzker’s interview in the video at the top.

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