Trump says 3M 'will have a big price to pay' over face masks

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump slammed 3M Co MMM.N in a tweet late on Thursday after earlier announcing he was invoking the Defense Production Act to get the company to produce face masks.

“We hit 3M hard today after seeing what they were doing with their Masks. ‘P Act’ all the way.’ Big surprise to many in government as to what they were doing - will have a big price to pay!” Trump said on Twitter.

At a White House briefing on the coronavirus pandemic earlier on Thursday, Trump announced he had signed a Defense Production Act order for 3M to produce face masks. “Hopefully they’ll be able to do what they are supposed to do,” he said, without elaborating.

St. Paul, Minnesota-based 3M did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The company’s brands include Scotch, Post-It and Nexcare, as well as healthcare products for professionals.

White House trade adviser Peter Navarro said at the briefing, “We’ve had some issues making sure that all of the production that 3M does around the world, enough of it is coming back here to the right places.”

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the president’s tweet.

N-95 face masks made by 3M and other companies are in short supply among healthcare workers treating coronavirus patients.

The Defense Production Act, which was passed in 1950, grants the president the power to expand industrial production of key materials or products for national security and other reasons.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is expected to issue guidelines in the next few days that could tell Americans to wear face masks when leaving home.

Reporting by Eric Beech; Editing by Mohammad Zargham and Leslie Adler