Calling Trump: When connections help steer virus supplies

But the president’s intervention underscored what watchdogs say is a troubling pattern when it comes to how the Trump administration is doling out lifesaving resources. Despite building a data-driven triage system in which FEMA allots supplies based on local needs, those who are politically connected and have the president’s ear have, at times, been able to bypass that process and move to the front of the line.

White House officials reject the notion that the process is being circumvented, stressing that everyone has been working to quickly get supplies to the places that need them most. That includes navigating complicated global supply chain issues and coordinating complementary efforts by private companies like Apple and billionaires including New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, casino magnate Sheldon Adelson and Chinese business giant Jack Ma. If state and local leaders need assistance, they said, all they need to do is call.

“It’s outrageous that some would even speculate that the resources being delivered by the federal government to the states is somehow based on politics,” said White House spokesman Judd Deere. “This is about saving lives.”

But sometimes it helps to know those in charge.