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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THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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