Trump administration helped to block virus CDC reports, documents show
Emails reveal appointees in the Department of Health and Human Services bragged about their efforts to downplay the coronavirus pandemic.
A new report reveals emails highlighting efforts made by President Donald Trump’s administration to alter information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to present favorable information about the coronavirus pandemic.
According to The Hill, the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis issued letters to former advisors Scott Atlas, Paul Alexander, and Steven Hatfill. Their inquiry discovered these were some of the president’s top advisors that helped suppress scientific information from the CDC to protect Trump’s reputation.
“Our investigation has shown that Trump Administration officials engaged in a persistent pattern of political interference in the nation’s public health response to the coronavirus pandemic, overruling and bullying scientists and making harmful decisions that allowed the virus to spread more rapidly,” said Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.), chairman of the subcommittee, according to the report.
Alexander, the former science adviser, attempted to alter or block over a dozen CDC reports related to the coronavirus, per The Hill. He also forwarded official government records to his personal email and another non-government account.
The committee believes the latter email belonged to a former colleague. The Trump administration has denied any political interference on CDC reports, and claimed Alexander’s emails “absolutely did not shape department policy or strategy.”
In October. during a hearing before the committee, then Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, also denied that Alexander’s actions held any weight. According to the outlet, he testified that Alexander had no “authority over determining the final publication of an MMWR [CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report).”
The committee found, however, he made valiant attempts to downplay the coronavirus. Alexander allegedly asked Atlas to help write an op-ed to impact public opinion on a CDC report on coronavirus deaths in young people.
“The timing of this is meant to interfere with school re-opening and we need to get something out fast to pre-empt this in the next day or so and I can work with you on it,” Alexander wrote in an email. “Let us advise the President and get permission to pre-empt this please, for it will run for the weekend so we need to blunt the edge.”
On another occasion, Alexander requested that Atlas write an op-ed countering masking children and closing schools as COVID-19 continued to spread.
“I do think locking down our kids (and healthy adults) and masking them can dampen their functional immune systems. Do you think this can be done???” he asked.
According to CNN, in an email dated Sep. 9, 2020, Alexander bragged about the success of his efforts.
“Small victory but a victory nonetheless and yippee!!!” he wrote in the email. Alexander claimed the reference was “meant to extrapolate this camp to schools to hit the administration on safe school re-open.”
In a letter dated Friday and addressed to Alexander, Clyburn wrote “This investigation has also revealed that you played a role in the Trump Administration’s efforts to suppress scientific information you felt could be ‘use[d] against the president’ and advocated for policies that would allow the virus to spread widely among many Americans, asserting ‘we want them infected.'”
CNN reported that Clyburn also requested that Alexander conduct a transcribed interview with the subcommittee on April 30.
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