It was only a few days ago that President Donald Trump was issuing praise for 3M following a promise from the Minnesota-based company to double its manufacturing capacity of desperately needed N95 respirator masks. But that all changed on Thursday.
After reports emerged that 3M’s network of distributors were substantially raising prices and refusing to sell to American buyers, President Trump ripped the company in a fiery tweet and invoked the Defense Production Act (DPA) to, in effect, take control of the company’s stock of masks, Breitbart reported.
“We hit 3M hard today after seeing what they were doing with their masks,” Trump tweeted Thursday night. “‘P Act’ all the way. Big surprise to many in government as to what they were doing — will have a big price to pay!”
According to Breitbart, Trump’s invocation of the Defense Production Act, which the president jokingly referred to as the “P Act” after a typo in an earlier tweet, means he has authorized Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf “to acquire, from any appropriate subsidiary or affiliate of 3M Company, the number of N95 respirators that the Administrator determines to be appropriate.”
Trump makes his move
The president’s tweet came just moments after a segment aired on Fox News’ Tucker Carlson Tonight featuring Jared Moskowitz, head of Florida’s Division of Emergency Management, who shared with host Tucker Carlson the struggles he and others in his state had experienced while attempting to obtain the highly sought-after respirator masks.
Speaking with Carlson, Moskowitz described his futile attempts to obtain N95 respirator masks through 3M’s distributor network, explaining that the orders he placed on behalf of the state of Florida were never delivered or ignored, according to Fox.
Moskowitz eventually learned that 3M’s authorized distributors were allowing bidding wars to drive up the price for their stocks of masks and were, at least in some cases, selling the supplies to foreign buyers offering large sums of cash in person.
“They’re specifically saying, ‘Listen, we are sorry your order got pushed down, but…there are foreign countries who do business differently and they’re showing up with cash,'” Moskowitz said, according to Fox.
The Florida official added that he finds 3M’s actions to be “criminal.” He said he’s baffled “that an American company is selling masks away from our hospitals, away from our doctors…away from the real heroes on the front lines,” Fox reported.
Moskowitz went on: “I can’t, other emergency management directors, CEOs of hospitals can’t get this life-saving PPE [personal protective equipment] because a company decided to make a globalist decision and not put America first.”
Moskowitz wasn’t alone in his experience; billionaire Mark Cuban separately sounded the alarm over the “price-gouging” by 3M’s distributors, Breitbart reported. Cuban said he has been trying to acquire the N95 masks on his own to help out others in need, according to Bloomberg News.
It remains to be seen just how far President Trump will go to keep 3M in line, but in the meantime, Americans can rest assured that the president is fighting to keep them — and the health care workers treating them — safe amid the global pandemic.