Politics

House subcommittee claims Donald Trump muzzled and interfered in CDC COVID-19 planning

A House subcommittee on the coronavirus pandemic is claiming CDC officials were pressured by the Trump administration to alter scientific guidance and muzzle their ability to talk to the public. 

Dr. Anne Schuchat, the former CDC principal deputy director, was asked about a report that officials felt ‘muzzled’ by the administration. “That is the feeling that we had, many of us had,” she responded. Schuchat claimed it took an “active effort” for the organization to make sure the reports couldn’t be changed.

Dr. Christine Casey, an editor of that report, said she received an email from Health and Human Services adviser Paul Alexander that she felt was an attempt to stop a report. Dr. Deborah Birx, who coordinated the White House‘s Covid response, described in the transcripts how the Trump administration pushed for guidance telling people who were asymptomatic that they didn’t need to get tested. 

Dr. Nancy Messonnier, former director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said she was told President Trump was angry about a February 25, 2020 briefing where she warned the public about the dangers of COVID. 

Former CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield and former Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar had a conversation with Messonnier that left her ‘upset’. She claimed that it was “highly unusual and quite concerning for somebody to ask to put an immediate stop on MMWR reports. I don’t think in my memory that has ever happened. And, to be accused because it is accusatory language, that MMWR content is designed to harm our commander in chief, the President.”

Casey also alleged that Redfield told her to delete the email containing the request. The president shared his stark assessment with the Washington Post’s Bob Woodward in recorded phone interviews in February 2020, as the virus was spreading from China to other parts of the world. 

“You just breathe the air and that’s how it’s passed,” Trump told him in a February 7, 2020 call. “And so that’s a very tricky one. That’s a very delicate one. It’s also more deadly than even your strenuous flu.” Trump told the nation January 30 2020: “We think we have it very well under control. We have very little problem in this country at this moment, five. And those people are all recuperating successfully.”

ARTICLE: PAUL MURDOCH

MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE

PHOTO CREDITS: SEATTLE TIMES

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Paul, 37, is from Scotland in the UK, but currently lives and works in Bangkok. Paul has worked in different industries such as telemarketing, retail, hospitality, farming, insurance, and teaching, where he works now. He teaches at an all-girls High School in Bangkok. “It’s a lot of work, but I love my job.” Paul has an active interest in politics. His reason for writing for FBA is to offer people the facts and allow them to make up their own minds. Whilst he believes opinion columns have their place, it is also important that people can have accurate news with no bias.

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