Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said he was “appalled” by President Trump’s scathing letter, which accused him of being a “bad” senator and open to challenge from the progressive wing of his party.
The letter was sent after the New York Democrat wrote the White House earlier Thursday over the federal government’s response to the coronavirus crisis.
“I’m just appalled,” Schumer said on MSNBC. “I say to the president, ‘Just stop the pettiness. People are dying. And so, President Trump, we need leadership, we need to get the job done. Stop the pettiness. Let’s get it done. Let’s roll up our sleeves. I sent the letter with the best of intentions, trying to improve a very bad situation.”
"Stop the pettiness."— MSNBC (@MSNBC) April 3, 2020
Sen. Schumer reacts to President Trump's response, after call for the president to appoint a military "czar" to oversee the dissemination of supplies to fight coronavirus outbreak. pic.twitter.com/ukThGVHtaG
The minority leader told host Chris Hayes he wrote to Trump to encourage him to use the Defense Production Act.
“So this morning I sent the president a letter and said, ‘Why don’t you invoke the Defense Production Act and put in place a military person?” Schumer explained. “Somebody who knows command and control, someone who knows logistics, someone who knows quarter-mastering -- to not only commandeer factories and supply chains to make the stuff that we need, desperately need, but also to distribute it in the places that are most needed.”
The result to that suggestion was the letter he received from Trump, in which the president reminded Schumer that the DPA “has been consistently used” but that many companies have stepped up voluntarily.
He also criticized the Democrat to choosing “to ignore” the fact that a “senior military officer” was already in charge of buying and distributing medical supplies—Rear Adm. John Polowczyk.
"We have given New York many things, including hospitals, medical centers, medical supplies, record numbers of ventilators, and more,” Trump wrote. “You should have had New York much better prepared than you did, as Dr. Fauci and Dr. Birx said yesterday, New York was very late in its fight against the virus. As you are aware, the Federal Government is merely a back-up for state governments. Unfortunately, your state needed far more of a back-up than most others."
Trump said if less time was spent on the “impeachment hoax” and more on helping New Yorkers, then perhaps he wouldn’t “have been so completely unprepared for the ‘invisible enemy.’”
While the president said he has known Schumer “for many years,” it wasn’t until becoming president that he became aware of “how bad a Senator you are for the state of New York.”