The Trump administration regularly compromised the scientific integrity of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Covid-19 pandemic response in an attempt to serve the former president’s political goals, a congressional panel said on Monday.
According to the ninety-one-page report released by the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, led by Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-SC), Donald Trump’s aides “usurped control of CDC communications and blocked public health officials from providing accurate information about the coronavirus to the American people.”
The report added that Trump and his team “installed political operatives who sought to downplay the seriousness of the pandemic.”
The “Trump administration’s interference in CDC’s efforts to respond to the pandemic and attacks against CDC scientists reflected a larger pattern of hostility that ultimately impacted a broad swath of public health officials and agencies,” it concluded.
Former CDC Director Robert Redfield told the committee during his interview that Trump officials “compromised” the CDC’s Covid guidance documents on several occasions. The report noted that Redfield said that the process “got complicated” to edit the documents and that the entire ordeal gave him “PTSD.”
In a statement, Clyburn said that the panel’s “investigation has shown that the previous administration engaged in an unprecedented campaign of political interference in the federal government’s pandemic response, which undermined public health to benefit the former president’s political goals.”
“As today’s report shows, President Trump and his top aides repeatedly attacked CDC scientists, compromised the agency’s public health guidance, and suppressed scientific reports in an effort to downplay the seriousness of the coronavirus,” he continued. “This prioritization of politics, contempt for science, and refusal to follow the advice of public health experts harmed the nation’s ability to respond effectively to the coronavirus crisis and put Americans at risk. As we continue to recover from the coronavirus crisis, we must also continue to work to safeguard scientific integrity and restore the American people’s trust in our public health institutions,” Clyburn added.
Meanwhile, CNN reported that Michael Caputo, a close Trump ally who was appointed as assistant secretary for public affairs at the Department of Health and Human Services, disputed the findings in the report.
“That’s false. Donald Trump hired me to communicate the seriousness of the pandemic, that’s what I was hired for, I ran a team of 400 people to do that,” he said.
“I don’t care what they say, or how they say it, whether it’s in a political document written pre-election by the Democrats, which I have zero respect for, or whether it’s in other fashions,” he continued.
Ethen Kim Lieser is a Washington state-based Finance and Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek, and Arirang TV. Follow or contact him on LinkedIn.