In early April 2020, social media users shared images in disbelief of what appeared to be a letter from Republican U.S. President Donald Trump to Democratic U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York. Here’s an example of a query, posted to Twitter, with the user’s name cropped out for privacy.
The letter, dated April 2, 2020, is indeed real and was posted to WhiteHouse.gov. Signed by Trump, the letter is an expression of the acrimony between Trump and legislators from New York, a state that has been ravaged by the deadly COVID-19 coronavirus disease pandemic. Trump and the Democratic leadership of that state had been trading accusations, with political leaders of the Empire State accusing the Trump administration of failing to mount an adequate federal response and provide desperately needed medical equipment as the death toll rises.
Trump’s letter to Schumer appeared to blame the shortage of supplies, like diagnostic tests, protective gear for medical workers, and ventilators, on impeachment proceedings against Trump. He was impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives in December 2019 and acquitted by the Senate in early February 2020. The letter reads, in part:
If you spent less time on your ridiculous impeachment hoax, which went haplessly on forever and ended up going nowhere (except increasing my poll numbers), and instead focused on helping the people of New York, then New York would not have been so completely unprepared for the “invisible enemy.” No wonder AOC [U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez] and others are thinking about running against you in the primary. If they did, they would likely win.
Trump’s letter was in response to a letter that Schumer sent him the same day. Schumer’s letter urged Trump to use the full authority of the so-called Defense Protection Act to close the gap in equipment shortfalls as the virus swept across the country and to prevent states from being forced to bid against each other in order to acquire medical supplies and protective equipment. The letter also implored Trump to designate a senior military official to oversee production of supplies and accused the Trump administration of “tardiness and inadequacy” in its response.
As of this writing, the state of New York has more than 100,000 COVID-19 cases, with 2,935 deaths. The United States has a total of 258,611 cases, with 6,660 deaths.