WASHINGTON — Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., is calling on President Donald Trump to appoint a “czar” with a military background to oversee the dissemination of critically needed materials to fight the coronavirus outbreak.
“We need him to put in charge a czar of the whole production and distribution of these materials under the DPA,” Schumer said, referring to the Defense Production Act, in an interview on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”
Schumer said the person should be a “military man” because the military knows how to collect and distribute materials quickly. He said he would be sending a letter to Trump to formally ask him to take that step.
The minority leader said that he spoke to Peter Navarro, an assistant to the president for trade and manufacturing policy who has been put in charge of overseeing the production and distribution of supplies. “I was very disappointed. He’s a good man. He’s a professor, he knows a lot about China — he knows nothing about this,” Schumer said.
Moments after Schumer’s TV appearance, Trump said in a tweet that his administration already has a military man in charge of distributing goods, “a very talented Admiral, in fact,” apparently referring to Navy Rear Adm. John Polowczyk, who is heading the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s supply chain task force.
In a follow-up tweet, Trump said that it doesn’t matter how much Schumer asks for because it would “never be good enough.” He said the minority leader should “stop complaining & find out where all of these supplies are going.”
Last Friday, Trump announced at the White House coronavirus task force news briefing that he was tapping Navarro to be the policy coordinator for the use of the Defense Production Act. Navarro did not serve in the military.