Democrats broaden investigation into Trump’s COVID response and alleged suppression of ‘hit job’ CDC data
House Democrats expand investigation into Trump’s health department after accusing former president’s administration of “interfering” with CDC data during the COVID pandemic — including attempts to change an apolitical CDC report allegedly hidden was by then CDC head Robert Redfield.
According to documents released MondayDemocrats on the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis want to interview three former Trump officials and eight current or former public health officials they say were part of Trump’s “failed response efforts.”
Among the allegations is an official’s report that Redfield “ordered staff to destroy evidence of political interference,” lawmakers say.
The committee members accused Trump officials of “a continuing pattern of political interference in the country’s pandemic response — ignoring and bullying our country’s scientists and making decisions that would allow the virus to spread more quickly in an attempt to improve the electoral prospects.” of former President Trump. ‘
The subcommittee, headed by Rep. James Clyburn, claims to be aware of 88 cases of the Trump administration meddling in the US pandemic response, including several instances where Trump-era officials attempted to modify the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports (MMWR).
MMWR reports provide regular public updates on scientists’ findings.
An August 2020 email obtained by Democrats shows former HHS adviser Paul Alexander demanding an “immediate stop” on the apolitical reports, calling them “heat pieces on the administration.”
Alexander went on to outline the terms under which the reports can be released, including giving permission to change the information inside to ensure it is “fair and balanced.”
The email was sent to lawmakers by Dr. Charlotte Kent, editor-in-chief of the MMWR report, who told them she had been ordered to delete Redfield’s email.
Former CDC director Robert Redfield was charged with allegedly trying to suppress a scathing email from an official seeking to stop the publication of the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports
House Democrats have accused Trump (pictured during a March 2020 COVID briefing) of “bullying” top scientists and making decisions that made the virus “spread faster”
‘Dr. Kent stated that she had been instructed to check Dr. Alexander on August 9, and that she understood that Dr. Redfield came,” lawmakers wrote in a letter addressed to HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra and current CDC head Rochelle Walensky.
Lawmakers also said the White House refused to seat Redfield for an interview after learning of the allegations, and “abruptly canceled” four other scheduled interviews with officials.
“Our public health institutions must never again be compromised by decision-makers who are more concerned with politics than protecting Americans,” the letter said.
They also asked to interview six current members of the HHS staff.
Democrats outlined their newly released findings in a letter to CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky (photo 20 July) and HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra (photo 22 July).
“These requests are in line with the House of Representatives’ authorization…”to conduct a full and complete investigation” into “issues related to the coronavirus crisis”, including the “preparedness and response to the coronavirus crisis” and “executive branch policies, deliberations, decisions, activities and internal and external communications related to the coronavirus crisis,” lawmakers write.
The House Democrats also wrote letters requesting interviews with top Trump CDC advisers Amanda Campbell, ex-CDC deputy chief of staff, Kyle McGowan, ex-CDC chief of staff, and Nina Witkofsky, ex-acting chief of staff and senior adviser to the CDC. .
Campbell and McGowan were both CCed in Alexander’s August 2020 email and previously spoke out against the administration’s alleged efforts to water down the CDC’s ability to report data.
More than 34 million COVID cases have hit the US so far and more than 610,000 people have died from the virus.
In their letter to Campbell Democrats, they claim to have received evidence of the “dangerous attempt by the Trump administration to achieve herd immunity,” changing CDC guidelines to lower COVID testing rates and “pursuing dubious coronavirus treatments because of the objections of scientists’.
“These incidents — many of which occurred while you were at CDC — worsened every major facet of the previous administration’s public health response and hampered the country’s ability to respond effectively to the pandemic,” they write.