ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan detailed how President Donald Trump’s administration “bungled” efforts to prevent the spread of coronavirus early, leading states to fend for themselves with it came to COVID-19 testing, in an excerpt from his new book “Still Standing: Surviving Cancer, Riots, a Global Pandemic, and the Toxic Politics that Divide America.” The book will be released on July 28.
The Washington Post published the excerpt of the Republican governor’s book Thursday as an op-ed.
Hogan discussed how he and Maryland’s First Lady Yumi made a deal with South Korea to help bolster coronavirus testing in the state after the governor got no help from President Trump, recalling that day in April when he and his wife stood on the tarmac at Baltimore-Washington Thurgood Marshall Airport to receive the 500,000 COVID-19 tests kits they had purchased.
“A caravan of Maryland National Guard trucks escorted by the Maryland State Police drove the tests from the airport to a refrigerated, secure warehouse at an undisclosed location,” Hogan wrote in the Post. “The federal government had recently seized three million N95 masks purchased by Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker. We weren’t going to let Washington stop us from helping Marylanders. This should not have been necessary.”
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“I’d watched as the president downplayed the outbreak’s severity and as the White House failed to issue public warnings, draw up a 50-state strategy, or dispatch medical gear or lifesaving ventilators from the national stockpile to American hospitals. Eventually, it was clear that waiting around for the president to run the nation’s response was hopeless; if we delayed any longer, we’d be condemning more of our citizens to suffering and death. So every governor went their own way, which is how the United States ended up with such a patchwork response. I did the best I could for Maryland,” Hogan continued.
In early February, after the first coronavirus case was reported in the U.S., Hogan hosted the governors for their annual National Governors Association meeting and invited Dr. Anthony Fauci as well as several other renowned health experts to give the governors a private presentation on coronavirus.
“They hit us with detailed presentations and the unfiltered truth,” Hogan said, noting how different the health experts warnings were as compared to the messages from the country’s leader.
Hogan said the NIH came to him for help with testing — when he had called them for help initially.
“The federal government — a much bigger and better-funded institution, with tens of thousands of scientists and physicians in the civil service — wanted my help! Governors always do the hard work, make the tough decisions and take the political heat. But an undertaking as large as a national testing program required Washington’s help. We expected something more than constant heckling from the man who was supposed to be our leader,” Hogan said.
When Trump said testing was up to the states, that’s when Hogan said he decided to go to South Korea for help.
On Thursday, Hogan appeared on several shows to explain his stance.
On Washington Post Live, Hogan said “The president could have been communicating more directly and more honestly with the people of America and it would have put us in a better position.”
Then on MSNBC, Hogan added there’s been some improvement since he wrote the book.
“I’ve tried to work in a constructive way, but I think they’ve made some improvements since then, quite frankly. But early on in the crisis, there’s no no question that there were serious mistakes that were made and that we could have done things better,” Hogan said.
Hogan also criticized Trump for not listening to his own experts and more recently attacking Dr. Anthony Fauci.
“I think those are some of the biggest mistakes that the President made throughout this pandemic and that was not following the advice of the of the experts, the doctors, the scientist, his own CDC and people like Dr. Fauci, who in my opinion has been the most respected, most trusted voice and the guy that we’re getting the most honest information from throughout this entire crisis,” he said Thursday morning.
“I this is this a recent attack, this campaign against Dr. Fauci… I think it’s probably one of the biggest mistakes that they’ve made, because throughout this, I think many Americans, myself included, have been listening very carefully to the advice and the input and the wisdom of Dr. Fauci and to exclude him and some of the advice from the President’s own team — I think it’s a mistake.”
The White House fought back against Hogan’s criticisms, which White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany called “revisionist history” during a Thursday briefing.
“It’s really striking, his comments, especially when you compare them to his past comments,” McEnany told reporters. “This is revisionist history by Governor Hogan, and it stands in stark contrast to what he said on March 19th, where he praised the great communication that the President has had with governors.”
In other excerpts WJZ received, Hogan described his view of the 2015 unrest.
He wrote Freddie Gray should not be confused “with a singer in a church choir.”
Gray’s death sparked weeks of protests and unrest.
Hogan wrote, Gray was a quote “Crips gang-connected, street-level drug dealer with a long criminal rap sheet, well known to these Baltimore city police.”
There’s no evidence Gray was involved in any gang, and even Hogan wrote in the book that’d be no excuse for any mistreatment.
We asked Hogan’s office why he characterized Gray that way, but they offered no response.
Democrats, online rebuked Hogan, criticizing the description as “appalling,” “dehumanizing,” “race baiting,” “disgusting” and “irrelevant” to Gray’s death.
Hogan sharply criticized then Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake as being “paralyzed with fear and indecision” during the unrest, recounting how he “saved” the city bringing in the Maryland National Guard.
Regarding Rawlings-Blake’s infamous “space to destroy” comment, Hogan wrote, “in other words, unless the gang members and the out-of-town agitators injured or killed someone, the mayor was going to let them destroy property and cause other kinds of mayhem.”
Rawlings-Blake declined to respond to Hogan’s criticism, which extended to other city leaders.
He describes State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby as a ‘no justice, no peace’ prosecutor who was 0 for 6, arguing she filed charges too quickly against the six city officers involved in Gray’s arrest.
Mosby’s spokesperson as well offered no response.
Read the full op-ed in The Washington Post.