Max Kennedy, Jr.—the grandson of former Senator, Attorney General, and presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy—has come forward in the New Yorker as the whistleblower who revealed the failings of Jared Kushner's COVID-19 task force.
The 26-year-old says he became involved in the Trump administration's coronavirus response effort after a friend recommended he volunteer for Kushner's task force; the President's son-in-law and senior advisor, the friend explained, was searching for young people who could work for free. Though Kennedy is a Democrat, he decided that joining the Republican-lead group was the right thing to do. "It was such an unprecedented time. It didn’t seem political—it seemed larger than the administration," he told the New Yorker.
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But what he saw in his time working under Kushner compelled him to send an anonymous report to Congress detailing the inner workings of the White House COVID-19 Supply-Chain Task Force—despite having signed a nondisclosure agreement. It "was like a family office meets organized crime, melded with Lord of the Flies," Kennedy said. "It was a government of chaos."
Kennedy says was shocked that he and a dozen other twenty-somethings with no experience in the medical sector were tasked with procuring much-needed PPE for the country, using their personal laptops and email addresses. "We were the team. We were the entire frontline team for the federal government." Kennedy added, "It was the number of people who show up to an after-school event, not to run the greatest crisis in a hundred years. It was such a mismatch of personnel. It was one of the largest mobilization problems ever. It was so unbelievably colossal and gargantuan. The fact that they didn’t want to get any more people was so upsetting."
He theorized that the administration chose to use inexperienced young volunteers in order to avoid input from experts and further "control the narrative" around the pandemic. Kennedy says that he was pressured to create a model that projected fewer deaths from the virus, because experts' predictions were "too severe," despite him not knowing "the first thing about disease modeling."
Kennedy also claimed that Fox News personality Jeanine Pirro held sway over the task force, calling for masks to be provided to her chosen hospital. PPE supplies valued in the millions were shipped to just five distributors; Kennedy was asked to write a statement justifying this choice and refused. Meanwhile, Kennedy remembers getting hundreds of emails a day offering PPE, which were not effectively responded to. Instead, Kennedy's superiors praised Trump as "a marketing genius" for putting the blame on the states, and took it on faith that "the worst thing we could do was step on the toes of the private sector," he said.
Kennedy quit in April, and sent Congress the anonymous complaint. "I just couldn’t sleep," he said, explaining why he chose to defy his NDA. "I was so distressed and disturbed by what I’d seen."
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