Democrats have launched an investigation into President Donald Trump’s administration’s pressure on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to change or delay reports related to the coronavirus pandemic.
The investigation will focus on the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports and comes after celebrated journalist Bob Woodward released recordings of interviews with the president in which the president admitted he sought to downplay the severity of the pandemic.
Representative Jim Clyburn, chair of the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, and his fellow lawmakers wrote a letter addressed to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and CDC Director Robert Redfield requesting “transcribed interviews and documents regarding efforts by political appointees at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to block the publication of accurate scientific reports by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) during the coronavirus crisis.”
“Given the crucial and pressing need for truthful scientific information during this ongoing public health crisis, the Select Subcommittee is seeking to determine the scope of political interference with CDC’s scientific reports and other efforts to combat the pandemic, the impact of this interference on CDC’s mission, whether this interference is continuing, and the steps that Congress may need to take to stop it before more Americans die needlessly,” they continue.
Democrats are requesting interviews with the following people on the dates listed below:
- Anne Schuchat, Principal Deputy Director, CDC, September 22, 2020, 9:00 a.m.
- Charlotte Kent, MMWR Editor-in-Chief, CDC, September 22, 2020, 1:00 p.m.
- Nina Witkofsky, Acting Chief of Staff, CDC, September 23, 2020, 9:00 a.m.
- Trey Moeller, Acting Deputy Chief of Staff, CDC, September 23, 1:00 p.m.
- Kate Galatas, Acting Associate Director for Communication, CDC, September 24, 2020, 9:00 a.m.
- Paul Alexander, Senior Advisor, HHS, September 24, 2020, 1:00 p.m.
- Michael Caputo, Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs, HHS, September 25, 2020, 9:00 a.m.
“Health and Human Services public affairs chief Michael Caputo and his scientific adviser Paul Alexander have pressured CDC officials to change the reports, in some cases retroactively, to align with President Donald Trump’s more optimistic message about the outbreak,” reported POLITICO amid calls to block political appointees from interfering with scientific publications.
The coronavirus pandemic has killed nearly 200,000 Americans since February.
Alan is a writer, editor, and news junkie based in New York.