A government agency suddenly changed its own description of the national stockpile of medical supplies Friday, shortly after reporters noted it directly contradicted the president's son-in-law, Jared Kushner.
During a COVID-19 briefing at the White House, the senior White House adviser suggested that the Strategic National Stockpile was not meant for the use of states.
"The notion of the federal stockpile was it's supposed to be our stockpile," Kushner said. "It's not supposed to be the states' stockpiles that they then use."
Kushner added that the Trump administration was "encouraging the states to make sure that they are assessing the needs and getting the data from their local situations."
But that directly contradicted the Department of Health and Human Services' own description of the program, which noted that, "When state, local, tribal, and territorial responders request federal assistance to support their response efforts, the stockpile ensures that the right medicines and supplies get to those who need them most during an emergency."
Multiple reporters, and some lawmakers, quickly noted the discrepancy, including Politico's Playbook newsletter.
A few minutes later, journalist Laura Bassett noted the language on the government's website describing the stockpile was changed, aligning closely to Kushner's comments.
The new language described the stockpile as a way to "supplement state and local supplies during public health emergencies."
"Many states have products stockpiled, as well," the site now notes. "The supplies, medicines, and devices for life-saving care contained in the stockpile can be used as a short-term stopgap buffer when the immediate supply of adequate amounts of these materials may not be immediately available."
Yet other descriptions of the National Stockpile reflecting its original description can still be found on websites for the Department of Health and Human Services and other agencies.
"The SNS is designed to supplement and resupply state and local public health agencies in the event of a national emergency anywhere and at anytime within the United States or its territories," another page of the agency's site states.
The Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, a national nonprofit that represents public health agencies across the US, also describes the stockpile's purpose to "supplement and resupply state and local inventories."
The White House did not immediately respond to BuzzFeed News' questions as to whether it requested that the language be changed on the Department of Health and Human Services’ website.
A spokesperson for DHHS told BuzzFeed News the agency had been working on the new website text for about a week.
"This is language we have been using in responding to inquiries for weeks now," the spokesperson said. "ASPR first began working to update the website text a week ago to more clearly explain to state and local agencies and members of the public the role of the SNS."
Yet reporters were not the only ones to note Kushner's description of how the stockpile was to be used during a national emergency.
Republican Sen. Cory Gardner on Friday pushed for an investigation into how the Strategic National Stockpile has been used, telling Politico, "any kind of mismanagement or abuse needs to be rooted out and those responsible held accountable."
Gardner would not criticize Kushner for his comment, but seemed to disagree.
"I don't know what Kushner is talking about, what he meant," he told Politico. "But the stockpile is for the country. And the country is made up of states in the federal government."