Documents Reveal New Details of Trump’s Political Interference in COVID Response

Top Trump White House political officials tried to block public health guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and tried to remove evidence of political interference in scientists’ reports on the coronavirus, according to recently released documents by researchers. congressional.

The latest documents from a House committee investigating the pre-administration’s response to the pandemic shed additional light on the efforts of some Trump political appointees to blunt or even block messages from career officials, because they are not align with Trump’s optimistic projections.

During a press conference on February 25, 2020, former CDC senior official Nancy Messonnier warned of the coming dangers of the coronavirus. He told reporters that the spread of the coronavirus was essentially inevitable.

“It is not so much a question of whether this will happen more, but rather a question of when exactly,” he said.

His statement then enraged-President TrumpDonald Trump Jan. 6 panel demands that Meadows testify Friday or risks indictment for contempt Defense and Homeland Security: Biden celebrates Veterans Day Trump backs Texas representative who said he ‘very well could have’ committed impeachment crimes PLUS, and the administration subsequently stopped granting CDC officials permission to report to the public. The agency did not hold briefings from early March through June, during some of the first and most confusing moments of the pandemic.

In an interview with the House select subcommittee on the pandemic, Messonnier said his intention was to tell the truth.

“My intention was not and has never been to scare the public … our intention was certainly to draw public attention to the likelihood that COVID was in the US and that it would spread and that we thought there was a high risk. that it was detrimental, “Messonnier said.

Former CDC Senior Deputy Director Anne Schuchat was asked to appear at another press conference later that afternoon with the Department of Health and Human Services.

“The impression I got was that the reaction to the morning briefing was quite volatile and having another briefing, you know, later I think I got the impression that having another briefing could be … you know, there was nothing new to report, but get additional voices to speak of that situation, ”Schuchat told the committee in his testimony.

After that day, the White House took over the response to the pandemic, including all public communication, and prohibited the CDC from making its own reports.

“I remember that the agency asked to do informational meetings, but I don’t remember when or which ones. I know there was a point where they stopped asking because they kept saying no,” Schuchat said.

The White House coronavirus task force began holding its own briefings that spring. Schuchat said that at one point he stopped looking because he felt they were useless and carried mixed messages.

At the same time, other Trump officials tried to prevent the CDC from releasing what the White House deemed negative information about the pandemic. Officials specifically tried to interfere with the CDC’s weekly morbidity and mortality reports (MMWRs) to better align with the more optimistic messages from the White House about the status of the virus.

Christine Casey, MMWR Editor, confirmed to the committee that it was instructed to delete an email in which former HHS political appointee Paul Alexander demanded that the CDC stop publishing truthful scientific reports that he believed harmed then-President Trump.

Casey said she understood the instruction came from the former CDC director. Robert RedfieldRobert Redfield Gottlieb says the government’s first response to COVID-19 was a ‘failure of vision’ House Democrats expand investigation into political interference at CDC during Trump administration Redfield says he believes the virus’ evolved ‘in the laboratory to better transmit MORE.

In another example, Scott AtlasScott Atlas Fauci and Birx warned Scott Atlas was ‘dangerous’ Watch out for language and art of manipulation DeSantis trashes YouTube over pandemic video removal MORE, a former special adviser to Trump, was involved in making changes to the CDC guidance that dramatically reduced who should be tested for COVID-19.

Atlas, a radiologist with no prior experience in infectious diseases, was added to the task force in the summer of 2021 after Trump saw him on television.

The guide was abruptly changed on August 24, 2020 to state that most asymptomatic people should not be tested, even if they were exposed to someone with the virus. The CDC made the decision by updating its website and did not make any public announcements or explain the reasoning behind the main review.

The guidelines were published despite objections from Deborah BirxDeborah Birx The Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Facebook – Democrats insist on closing budget consensus as overnight health care talks drag on – Presented by Altria – FDA advisers back Pfizer vaccine for children Birx Says Trump White House Prioritized Elections Over COVID-19 Response MORE, former Trump administration coronavirus response coordinator.

Birx told the committee that he believed Atlas was spearheading the change, because he wanted less evidence.

Administration officials told reporters at the time that the guidelines were a collaborative product and were approved by the entire White House task force, but Birx said he was traveling when the updated guide was approved.

“After this guide was published … we saw a dramatic decrease in the number of tests performed during late August and early September,” Birx said. “This document resulted in less testing and less aggressive testing of those without symptoms that I believed were the main reason for early spread in the community.”

Less than a month later, the CDC released a revised testing guide, to make it clear that anyone who comes in close contact with a person infected with the coronavirus should be tested.

The revised guide was written by Birx, Redfield, and Henry Walke, a veteran CDC official.

Birx said it was released because of “objections from senior White House staff.”

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