President Trump confirmed on Friday that he plans to assemble a new council, consisting of administration officials, governors, medical and business leaders to focus on re-opening the U.S. economy once the coronavirus pandemic has eased.
“The facts are going to determine what I do,” Trump told reporters during Friday’s Coronavirus Task Force Briefing. “But we do want to get the country open. So I have a task force, I’ll have a council. It’s going to be announced on Tuesday with names that you have a lot of respect for, a lot of great names. And I want their views on what they think.”
The council, dubbed the “Opening Our Country Council” would include “great business leaders, great doctors, we’re going have a great group of people” from around the country, and it will be separate from the White House Coronavirus Task Force led by Vice President Mike Pence.
“I don’t know that I’ve had a bigger decision, but I’m going to surround myself with the greatest minds — not only the greatest minds, but the greatest minds in numerous different businesses, including the business of politics and reason, and we’re going to make a decision,” the president said.
He added that the group would meet in teleconferences “because we don’t really want them traveling in for their own purposes” and plans to extend invitations to a handful of governors in the states hardest hit by the virus.
“I want to have some governors, I’m not gonna have all of the governors but I’d like to put some representative governors on the council,” Trump said, adding that he “gained great respect” for a handful of governors throughout the crisis and “some of the Democrat governors that I wouldn’t really have had the privilege of getting to know.”
Among the names he mentioned were the Democratic Govs. Phil Murphy of New Jersey, John Bel Edwards of Louisiana, Gavin Newsom of California, Andrew Cuomo of New York and GOP Gov. Mike DeWine of Ohio.
Administration officials who are expected to serve on the council are Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House senior economic adviser Larry Kudlow, according to a senior administration official and the new White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows is expected to lead the panel.
“I want to get it open as soon as possible,” Trump said. “This country was meant to be open and vibrant and great. I’m going to make a decision based on a lot of different opinions.”
Trump said that facts and recommendations from health experts will determine the next steps taken to re-open the economy. When asked what metrics he would use to come to a final conclusion about reopening the, Trump pointed at his head, saying he will be guided by his health officials and will “make a decision based on a lot of different opinions.”
“The metrics right here,” the president said while pointing at his head. “That’s my metrics, that’s all I can do. I can listen to 35 people. At the end, I’ve got to make a decision.”
“I’m going to have to make a decision and I only hope to God that it’s the right decision. But I would say without question it’s the biggest decision I’ve ever had to make,” Trump added.