The new group comes as the president has expressed his eagerness for several weeks now to shake the country from its self-imposed social and economic lockdown, though medical experts have warned that resuming business as usual before the virus is under control and widespread diagnostic measures can be implemented could have dire consequences.
Trump indicated Friday that the new group would look further than reviving the sputtering economy.
“This is beyond economic,” he explained. “This is really, I call it the ‘opening our country task force’ or ‘opening our country council’ so we don’t get it confused with Mike’s task force, which has done so great. And we’re going to have the great business leaders, great doctors, we’re going to have a great group of people.”
In keeping with social distancing recommendations still in place to blunt the spread of the coronavirus, Trump suggested the group will meet by teleconference “because we don’t really want them traveling in for their own purposes.”
While the president remained mum on any potential names, he told reporters he wanted to prioritize geographic diversity and wouldn’t be placing any ideological restrictions on its members.
He did affirm he planned to extend invitations to at least a handful of governors in the states hardest hit by the virus.
“I think we’re gonna put some governors,” Trump said, explaining that he’d “gained great respect” for a handful of governors throughout the crisis, going as far as to say the pandemic had allowed him to befriend “some of the Democrat governors that I wouldn’t really have had the privilege of getting to know.”
Among the names he mentioned were 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.