Trump sees limits of presidency in avoiding blame for virus

Trump and those around him increasingly argue he is reaching the limits of his power to alter the trajectory of the outbreak and the economic fallout, according to White House officials and allies, many of whom were granted anonymity to discuss the situation candidly. The federal government has issued guidelines that in many areas have resulted in the shutdown of all but essential businesses, throwing the economy into a tailspin. The remaining options, the officials argue, are largely on the margins.

The limits of the presidency are self-imposed to some extent as the Trump administration continues to cede authority to state and local governments, which have adopted a patchwork of inconsistent social distancing policies. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat, prickled at the suggestion that the Republican president has limited options, calling it “a diminished view of the presidential responsibility.”

“Was Franklin Delano Roosevelt done with his work 30 days after Pearl Harbor? Heavens, no. That’s ludicrous,” Inslee said in an interview. “For a person who’s struggling to get (personal protective equipment) to my nurses and test kits to my long-term care facilities, that is more than disappointing. It’s deeply angering.”