The White House has reportedly been reluctant to issue an expansive emergency declaration, and according to a Politico report, Donald Trump has unfortunate motivations. "Trump's concern at this point is that going further could hamper his narrative that the coronavirus is similar to the seasonal flu and could further agitate Wall Street," the article said.
It also quoted a Republican source who speaks to Trump, who added, "The president isn't persuaded because [an emergency declaration] contradicts his message that this is the flu."
But while the West Wing weighs its options, Politico added that one West Wing official in particular will have considerable influence about the administration's policy.
There's no deadline for a decision, but one of the people familiar with the talks said Trump's aides will not give the president a final verdict until Jared Kushner, the president's senior adviser and son-in-law, talks to relevant parties and presents his findings to the president.
CNN's White House correspondent added that Kushner is "becoming more involved" in the administration's coronavirus response, with one source telling the network that the president's son-in-law is "in total control."
A New York Times report added that Kushner "helped draft the address" that Trump clumsily tried to read from the Oval Office last night.
For much of Trump's presidency, Kushner's comically expansive policy portfolio has been a running joke, but with each new responsibility, it gets a little less funny.
In November, for example, Trump's young son-in-law reportedly became the "de facto project manager" for constructing a border wall ahead of the president's re-election bid. A month later, there were reports that Kushner was also helping lead the U.S.-China trade negotiations. Now, by some accounts, the 39-year-old aide is also helping guide the White House response to a viral outbreak.
These are difficult circumstances for even the most experienced and competent teams. But if Donald Trump and Jared Kushner are helping lead the way on the coronavirus response, it's that much more difficult to have confidence in the administration's capacity.