Top Trump Administration officials—and potentially the president himself—intervened to help a struggling trucking company receive a $700 million Covid-19 pandemic loan after Defense Department officials recommended against it, according to a new report released on Wednesday by House Democrats, who said they would seek to hold accountable those who used a “public health crisis” for “political gain and personal profit.”
The report—which the House Select Subcommittee On The Coronavirus Crisis titled, “We Had Our Hand in the Cookie Jar’—shows that YRC Worldwide, received 95% of the total funds allocated through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act national security program.
Shortly after a Defense Department official informed the Treasury Department that the firm, now called Yellow Corporation, would not be deemed eligible for a loan because they were not “critical to maintaining national security,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin set up an “urgent” phone call with Defense Secretary Mark Esper, according to the report.
A week after the call in late June 2020, Esper in July certified the company as critical to national security and the loan was approved.
Trump also discussed the loan in June 2020 with International Brotherhood of Teamsters President James Hoffa, who was lobbying on behalf of the company for the loan, according to the report.
The discussion suggests Trump may have “intervened to press for Yellow’s receipt of the $700 million national security loan” so he could garner “praise from a union leader months before the presidential election,” the report states.
Subcommittee chair James Clyburn (D-SC) requested the Office of the Inspector General to investigate whether Yellow violated federal law by making false claims in its loan application.
Such an investigation can result in criminal charges only if the Justice Department agrees to prosecute the case, according to the Office of Inspector General,
Trump, Mnuchin and Hoffa did not immediately respond to requests for comment.