Internal Emails Obtained by Accountable.US Reveal “No Transparency, No Communication” with Colorado Officials by Trump Administration

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Internal emails obtained by government watchdog Accountable.US reveal new instances of chaos and mismanagement by the Trump administration in its communication with states desperate for medical equipment during the first months of the COVID-19 pandemic. The records, procured through the group’s 50 States Open Records Project, include communications between Colorado emergency management and FEMA officials showing the state’s distrust in the White House’s coronavirus model and frustration with the Trump administration’s seizure of in-demand ventilators and N95 masks expected by the state.

“During a crisis, the federal government has a responsibility to support state governments. Unfortunately, all too often during the COVID-19 crisis, the Trump administration has been more of a hindrance than a help,” said Kyle Herrig, president of Accountable.US. “The administration’s poor planning and inadequate communications needlessly caused confusion in Colorado and in states across the country. As cases of COVID-19 continue to rise throughout the nation, Trump needs to focus on protecting American lives.”

The records include details on the state’s fight for PPE including:

  • Colorado officials were “extremely troubled” by the White House’s use of the IHME coronavirus model, which consistently underestimated the state’s need for ventilators and expected number of COVID-19 fatalities.
  • The administration’s IHME model was used to justify the seizure of 1 million N95 masks and 200 ventilators by FEMA — leading to widespread outrage by Colorado officials.
  • A Colorado emergency management official joked that when he attempted to reach out directly to the group behind the IHME model, he was ignored and called a “dumbass cop.”
  • FEMA administrators revealed, much to the chagrin of Colorado officials, that due to rampant subcontracting, the federal government effectively had priority on all ventilator orders in early April as states like Colorado feared they wouldn’t have enough to support their populations.
  • The director of Colorado’s Emergency Management Department claimed that Governor Polis was told by the CEO Of Zoll that the state’s order for 500 ventilators was “preempted” by FEMA and lamented that the lack of transparency and communication from the federal government was causing states to fight for crucial supplies.


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