A deflated and low energy President Trump sought on Friday to relive the glory days of his presidency, trying to use Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine as a bludgeon to get people to be nice to him.
At a briefing in the White House’s Rose Garden, Trump tried to bully New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) by withholding a vaccine for New York state until Cuomo told the President he was sorry for being mean about the vaccine.
“As soon as April, the vaccine will be available to the entire general population with the exception of places like New York state,” Trump said.
He added that he didn’t want New York state to have the life-saving intervention because Cuomo was wrong to have said that he wanted state authorities to review the vaccine and its distribution plan before sending it out.
TPM first reported in September that Cuomo, along with other governors, were considering waiting to distribute a vaccine had the Trump administration approved it before safety and efficacy markers were met.
“For political reasons, the governor decided to say — I don’t think it’s good politically, I think it’s bad from a health standpoint, but he wants to take his time on the vaccine and he doesn’t trust where the vaccine is coming from,” Trump sneered at a Friday briefing on Operation Warp Speed, his administration’s effort to accelerate vaccine development.
“He doesn’t trust the fact that it’s this White House, this administration, so we won’t be delivering it to New York until we have authorization to do so and that pains me to say that,” Trump added. “So Governor Cuomo will have to let us know when he’s ready for it. We can’t be delivering it to a state that won’t be giving it to its people immediately.”
Within an hour of the President’s remarks, New York Attorney General Letitia James said she was prepared to sue to ensure that her state received the vaccine on the same schedule as the rest of the country.
Trump won’t have much time to distribute anything, given that President-elect Biden will take office on Jan. 20.
The current timeline of vaccine approval and distribution suggests that Trump would have a few weeks, max, to withhold it from his home state of New York.
But it’s always fun to reminisce about the good ol’ days when the apparatus of government was just another way to run low-rent extortion schemes.