House Democrats investigating the Trump administration’s handling of the pandemic — and, specifically, the Trump team’s political interference at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) amid the crisis — are now expanding their inquiry. As explained by The Washington Post, the “expanded probe centers on efforts to blunt the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports, or MMWRs, which offer public updates on scientists’ findings.” At one point, a Trump-appointed official directly alleged that the CDC was purposefully undercutting Trump’s approach to the pandemic with their routine scientific reports about the outbreak. It was just science, but Trump’s team freaked out.
Now, the House panel investigating matters related to COVID-19 “is requesting interviews with Anne Schuchat, the CDC’s former deputy director; Nancy Messonnier, a former senior official who held a variety of leadership roles at CDC during the pandemic; and six current career staff at CDC and the Department of Health and Human Services,” the Post explains. That subcommittee has newly released an email showing how senior staff members at the CDC contemplated how to respond to a demand from Trump appointee Paul Alexander for changes to the agency’s MMWRs. Alexander is the same individual who alleged that those scientific reports were purposefully contradicting Trump’s stance.
Now, the House panel handling this issue is also seeking interviews with Kyle McGowan, Amanda Campbell, and Nina Witkofsky, all of whom served at the CDC after appointments by Trump but have since left. The committee has “released a list of 88 alleged examples of the Trump administration’s interference into public health last year, citing media reports and its own investigations,” the Post notes. Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.) and fellow Democrats wrote as follows in letters to current top health officials:
‘Our public health institutions must never again be compromised by decision-makers more concerned with politics than keeping Americans safe. It is therefore imperative that the Select Subcommittee’s investigations into the prior Administration’s response to the pandemic provide full accountings of what occurred,’
Trump often seemed more concerned with public image than substance while in office as president. Furthermore, he repeatedly refused to take COVID-19 more seriously at all. He could have more consistently promoted face masks, he could have encouraged Americans to stay home for longer, he could have more substantively engaged in Congressional negotiations to get Americans financial support, and he could have more broadly used the powers of the federal government to compel the production of personal protective items that have been desperately needed by frontline health care workers — but he didn’t. Instead, he golfed and whined on Twitter, among other things. What a disgrace.