President Trump signed an executive order Monday aimed at preventing price gauging and hoarding of critical medical supplies amid the coronavirus outbreak.
Attorney General William Barr detailed the executive order at a White House briefing Monday evening, saying it would prohibit people from accumulating critical supplies amid the coronavirus outbreak in an effort to profit off of them.
Barr said the Justice Department had seen potential evidence of hoarding and price gauging amid the pandemic.
Trump is authorized under the Defense Production Act to prohibit hoarding of needed resources by designating them as scarce or threatened by persons accumulating excessive amounts, Barr said.
The executive order signed by Trump on Monday gives Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar the authority to designate certain supplies as critical ones, meaning those found to be hoarding or price gauging such equipment could face criminal action, Barr said.
“Once specific materials are so designated, persons are prohibited from accumulating those items in excess of reasonable personal or business needs or for the purpose of selling them in excess of prevailing market prices,” Barr said.
“It is a crime to engage in prohibited activity,” the attorney general continued.
No materials have been designated as critical, Barr said, but HHS and DOJ are working together to identify possible cases where hoarding is hampering response efforts amid the coronavirus outbreak.
White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham tweeted a photo of Trump earlier signing the executive order alongside Barr and Azar in the Oval Office.
source: The Hill