What’s Going On With Donald Trump and 3M?

David Becker/ZUMA

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President Trump mysteriously invoked the Defense Procurement Act against 3M on Thursday:

The White House didn’t explain this, and it’s a little unnerving to see Trump using the DPA in such a gleefully punitive way. It’s supposed to be a technocratic tool for coordinating production, not a way for a president to score political points on Twitter.

In any case, this presumably has something to do with how and where 3M is shipping N95 respirator masks. But how much control does 3M have over this?

I can’t independently vouch for this, but it sounds pretty plausible. If other countries have put export controls on N95 masks, there’s probably not much 3M can do to direct them to the US.

Perhaps we’ll learn more on Friday if either the White House or 3M comment on this. And who knows? Maybe it will turn out that the issue with 3M is something entirely different.

POSTSCRIPT: Either way, I’m not thrilled that Trump has finally figured out that he can use the DPA selectively as a way of burnishing his political fortunes. Matches to children, my friends, matches to children.

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