“…it’s a two-way street” ~ Trump Attempts to Extort America’s Governors During a Pandemic!

Makeshift morgues set up in front of NYC hospital to handle the overflow

In his article for MSNBC, Steve Benen asks the question, “Does Trump expect governors to offer the White House political support as it allocates emergency resources?” (Steve Benen, ‘Trump on governors: “They have to treat us well, also,”’ March 25, 2020)

Trump is trying to work quid pro quos with states in duress. He thinks he’s going to be able to extort political support and/or immunity from criticism in exchange for help and assistance. He’s using federal assistance like political capital and trying to ‘do business’ and ‘make deals.’ He’s holding back actually using the War Powers Act to save lives as if the aid is cash, and he wants them to spend theirs, get their own supplies and commandeer their own equipment.

He’s extorting governors responsible for millions of lives during a pandemic for “appreciative” PR in a direct quid pro quo in return for federal aid — which is to say, embezzling allocated federal funds, resources and emergency powers and misallocating them for his own personal and political benefit. The governors have no choice. They have to bend the knee, bow the head and kiss the ring or MORE hundreds of thousands, if not millions, will die.

By his own admission, from the podium on air at one of his demented ‘Coronavirus Briefings,’ he publicly, proudly confessed to having told Pence not to call back panicked governors who weren’t “showing appreciation” and/or were being too vocal about his utterly inept and harmful non-response to the crisis and the American people’s safety and wellbeing. As will all his thinking, misogyny inevitably comes into it; in his deranged comments during this press briefing, he refered to the WA governor as ‘the governor,’ and to the MI governor as ‘the woman’ when insulting them. His self-interested criminality is instant and automatic; he’s threatening NY State with the withholding of urgently needed aid unless they drop their investigations of his criminal acts.

It is criminal felony to effectively embezzle federal funds, resources, and special emergency measures to benefit himself. By using federally allocated resources to coerce, blackmail and extort lawful entities to desist from the exercise of their oaths, legal responsibilities and Constitutional obligations, Trump is, once again, attempting to work a treasonous quid pro quo. This man is psychotic, and this is extortion by threat of mass state murder by means of punitive, vengeful, pointed and purposeful neglect. He perambulated his corpulent ass up the stairs of Airforce One this morning, flying down to Mar A Lago to play golf over the weekend, just as a formal National Emergency is declared.

“The federal government is not supposed to be out there buying vast amounts of items and then shipping. You know, we’re not a shipping clerk. The governors are supposed to be — as with testing, the governors are supposed — are supposed to be doing it…I think we’re doing very well. But, you know, it’s a two-way street. They have to treat us well, also. They can’t say, ‘Oh gee, we should get this, we should get that.’”

As if they’re opponents in a bidding war! Jon Chait explained the other day that state and local governments “lack the bargaining power and national scale to take control of industrial processes that lie outside their borders. How is a governor of Ohio or New Mexico supposed to get a manufacturer in, say, California to start producing medical equipment? And how are these governors supposed to allocate the equipment that is produced?”

It’s what he thinks he’s supposed to do in this and every situation — make sure he, personally, gains the advantage in every ‘deal.’ He doesn’t know how to do anything else, or to think in any other kind of way, and so is basically embezzling and weaponizing federal emergency relief funds for personal, political gain and to aid his re-election by forcing governors to stem the tide of criticism and censure.

By withholding already mandated assistance to a country being aggressively invaded by and under attack from Russia, he sought to barter the funds and equipment in a direct exchange for political assistance with his 2020 re-election. Here’s Trump extorting the Ukrainian president for PR help:

“I will say that we do a lot for Ukraine. We spend a lot of effort and a lot of time. Much more than the European countries are doing and they should be helping you more than they are…A lot of the European countries are the same way so I think it’s something you want to look at but the United States has been very very good to Ukraine…I wouldn’t say that it’s reciprocal necessarily because things are happening that are not good but the United States has been very very good to Ukraine…I would like you to do us a favour though, because our country has been through a lot and Ukraine knows a lot about it…Whatever you can do, it’s very important that you do it if that’s possible….”

Now Trump is basically extorting United States governors by withholding federal presidential Emergency Powers Act-mandated assistance to states being aggressively invaded by and under attack from a microbe. In exchange for political assistance with his 2020 re-election, in terms of ‘treating him well’ in “a two-way street,” he’s delaying unforgivably, cruelly withholding the essential help that only he can mandate. Hundreds of thousands of lives, an economy, an already struggling health system, and a nation’s collective soul are at stake. States and their governors are in extremis and he’s trying to extort them.

He has no idea how to do this job. At all. He’s critically cognitively disabled.

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Yvonne Owens, PhD

I'm a writer/researcher/arts educator on Vancouver Island and all round global citizen who loves humans even though we're such a phenomenal pain-in-the-ass.