- Jared Kushner facilitated the delivery of 45 ventilators from Russia to the US earlier this year, two senior administration officials told The Daily Beast.
- Those ventilators turned out to be faulty and were cast aside, local officials told the news outlet.
- The report said that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s staffers were surprised to see the supplies arriving from Russia.
- According to The Daily Beast, Kushner hurried the order along via a personal relationship with the CEO of a Russian sovereign wealth fund that’s under US sanctions.
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Jared Kushner brokered a deal with Russia for 45 ventilators to be brought to the US to help with the coronavirus crisis, but they all turned out to be faulty, a new report says.
Two senior Trump administration officials told The Daily Beast that Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and one of his senior advisers, helped to secure an equipment order that included the ventilators.
They were unloaded from a Russian-marked plane in New York in March, as the COVID-19 outbreak was intensifying in the state.
The report said the order was carried out by the State Department but was sped along thanks to Kushner’s relationship with Kirill Dmitriev, the CEO of the Russian Direct Investment Fund, a sovereign wealth fund of the Russian government.
According to The Daily Beast, half of the equipment was paid for by the fund, which is subject to US sanctions limiting its interactions with US entities but not blocking them entirely.
The delivery arrived but fell short of expectations. Officials in New York and New Jersey told The Daily Beast that the ventilators didn’t work.
Other outlets had reported on problems with the ventilators; two US officials told ABC News in May that they could not be used immediately because of voltage issues.
ABC also reported that the shipment contained thousands of medical supplies that are not commonly used by hospitals, like household cleaning gloves, and that Russia billed the US almost $US660,000 for them.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo had been asking the Trump administration for more ventilators, saying on March 24 that the state needed 30,000 more.
“We’ve tried everything else,” Cuomo said. “The only way we can obtain these ventilators is from the federal government. Period.”
According to The Daily Beast, Cuomo’s staffers were surprised to see the supplies arrive from Russia – they had expected them to come from federal stockpiles or to be produced in the US.
Russia’s ambassador to the US called the shipment a “humanitarian mission.” Trump welcomed the equipment, saying at a press briefing on April 2 that Russian President Vladimir Putin had offered him equipment in a phone call.
“He offered a lot of medical, high-quality stuff that I accepted and that may save a lot of lives,” Trump said. “I’ll take it every day.”
Kushner was in charge of Project Airbridge, designed to bring medical supplies and equipment to the US from Asian manufacturers.
The program was largely ended in May, even though the US outbreak was continuing and states and hospitals were still seeing shortages.
The Treasury Department, the State Department, the Russian Direct Investment Fund, and Dmitriev did not respond to The Daily Beast’s requests for comment, and the White House did not comment on the record.