OAKLAND, Calif. — Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday flatly denied a weekend report that the White House had conditioned coronavirus aid on asking President Donald Trump directly for help and thanking him.
“Not true,” Newsom said when asked, adding that “no one told me that. No one asked me that.”
The New York Times reported that President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and aide Jared Kushner conveyed to one of Newsom’s advisers that “federal help would hinge on the governor doing him a favor.” The Newsom adviser, Bob Kocher, characterized it to the Times as the governor needing to call Trump and ask.
The Times story elsewhere said that Newsom also had to thank the president. The Times referenced a press conference on April 22 in which Newsom praised the Republican president for agreeing to California’s request.
After thousands of swabs arrived, Newsom one day later said of Trump’s delivery that it was “promise made, promise kept” — a comment that turned heads in California and Washington because it echoed the president’s campaign rhetoric.
The Trump campaign immediately moved to reap a political windfall from Newsom’s praise, swiftly blasted out Newsom’s comments to followers and used a clip of the Democratic governor in ads. Trump also glowingly referenced Newsom’s plaudits at the White House.
On Monday, Newsom affirmed that “I expressed gratitude, but no one told me to express it,” and he said that such a request “never came to me,” although he allowed that “there may have been a conversation” between Trump officials and his staff.