President Donald Trump fired back at Democratic Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker for allegedly “complaining all the time,” adding that he “hasn’t performed well” amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“There is a governor, I hear him complaining all the time, Pritzker. He is always complaining,” Trump said during Sunday’s White House Coronavirus Task Force press briefing. “I just said, ‘Give me a list of a couple of the things we’ve done in Illinois.’ We’re building a 2,500-bed hospital in McCormick Place, that’s a big convention center in Chicago. We’re helping to staff it and probably will end up staffing it because he’s not able to do what he’s supposed to be able to do as the governor.”
“He has not performed well,” the president added.
Newsweek reached out to the White House for comment.
Trump’s criticism of Pritzker came hours after the Illinois governor called out the president on CNN’s State of the Union for suggesting that states should have prepared their own stockpiles of medical equipment.
“The president does not understand the word ‘federal.’ Federal Emergency Management Agency. We have a state Emergency Management Agency, but if he were right, why would we ever need a Federal Emergency Management Agency?” Pritzker said. “It’s because individual states can’t possibly do what the federal government can do.”
Trump had said some U.S. states were “totally unprepared” for the coronavirus pandemic during the White House’ COVID-19 press conference on Friday. “We have a federal stockpile, and they have state stockpiles, and frankly they were, many of the states, they were totally unprepared for this,” the president said. “So we had to go into the federal stockpile, but we’re not an ordering clerk. They have to have it for themselves.”
In response, Pritzker told CNN that individual states did not have the power to invoke the Defense Production Act that would have allowed them to prepare for such a pandemic–but noted that the Trump administration did.
“There’s no way that we can stockpile in anticipation of a pandemic that no one anticipated, and yet the federal government is responsible for doing precisely that,” the Illinois governor said. “And we now know that intelligence sources and all the best advice that was given, was given in January and early February to the president and the White House, and they seemed to not have acted at all upon it.”
Prizker also said that if the Trump administration and federal government had invoked the legislation to build ventilators beforehand, then “we would to have the same problems we have today, and frankly, very many fewer people would die.”