True to form, the behind-the-scenes reality of the new White House “Great American Economic Revival Industry Groups” advisory council is rather different than the picture Donald Trump painted in Wednesday’s coronavirus press briefing. For one thing, not everyone involved knew they were involved.
“We got a note about a conference call, like you’d get an invite to a Zoom thing, a few lines in an email, and that was it. Then our CEO heard his name in the Rose Garden? What the [expletive]?” a “prominent Washington lobbyist for a leading global corporation” told The Washington Post. “My company is furious. How do you go from ‘Join us on a call’ to, ‘Well, you’re on our team?’”
In a twist on that story, the AFL-CIO was not asked if it wanted to be on Trump’s advisory council—it was told it would be.
Beyond that, some of the corporate leaders didn’t tell Trump what he wanted to hear. Many top executives told Trump that mass testing is needed—and then Trump went out and again downplayed the need for more testing. Some executives also told him they didn’t think May 1 was a realistic date for seriously relaxing restrictions, but “Trump made it very clear he was ready to go on May 1,” someone on one of the calls said.
Despite all those substantive problems with how the Trump White House is handling this crisis, though, many of the executives reportedly spent the calls feeding Trump’s ego. And Trump pretty obviously ignored everything else they said. Why not, when he didn’t even bother to ask some of them if they were interested in being part of his group before claiming they were?