DETROIT — The partnership looked promising.
On March 18, General Motors CEO Mary Barra told President Donald Trump’s economic adviser Larry Kudlow that the automaker might be able to help make much-needed ventilators, the scarce breathing machines used to keep coronavirus patients alive.
The deal would help the company, which has had tense relations with Trump. It would help the administration, which faced charges that the pandemic caught it napping. Most importantly, it would help the sickest patients, those facing death without machines to breathe for them.
But not 10 days later, Trump accused GM of foot-dragging and price-gouging in its effort to replenish the supply of medical equipment. “Always a mess with Mary B,” Trump tweeted, just hours before invoking the Defense Production Act, which allowed him to order GM to move.
Newly revealed details show that GM has been continuously engaged in the effort — order or no order — and company officials say the sprint from…