WASHINGTON, D.C. In a few days, amid a global health crisis, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) will find itself under the leadership of a newly installed Trump loyalist: John Barsa.

The shakeup in leadership, for which a transition plan has not been widely shared, will come days after a debacle where White House officials seeking crucial personal protective equipment (PPE) from a foreign ally found out that USAID had actually sent that ally supplies without the White House’s knowledge, a bold display of the Trump Administration’s disjointed and disorganized response to this crisis. 

Barsa has limited experience with emergency crisis management and public health emergencies, and his White House pushed appointment likely usurped an interagency favorite for the job.

Kyle Herrig, Accountable.US president, offered the following statement:

“At every turn, the Trump administration has led an ill-prepared and chaotic response to COVID-19. It’s obvious from the confusion over USAID’s delivery of desperately needed medical protective equipment that the administration’s right hand clearly does not know what the left hand is doing. This disarray makes an already bad situation worse and speaks to the need for a steady, experienced hand at the helm of USAID. Unfortunately, John Barsa does not fit the bill.”


  • Last week, a Trump administration official working to secure much-needed protective gear for doctors and nurses in the United States had a startling encounter with counterparts in Thailand.
  • The official asked the Thais for help—only to be informed by the puzzled voices on the other side of the line that a U.S. shipment of the same supplies, the second of two so far, was already on its way to Bangkok.
  • Trump aides were alarmed when they learned of the exchange, and immediately put the shipment on hold while they ordered a review of U.S. aid procedures. Crossed wires would only confuse our allies, they worried, or worse—offend them. And Americans confronting a surging death toll and shortages of medical equipment back home would likely be outraged.


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