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Trump team bent COVID-19 guidance for politics, House Democratic investigation alleges

Washington Examiner logo Washington Examiner 10/17/2022 Abigail Adcox
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The Trump administration regularly interfered with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s public health messaging early in the coronavirus pandemic to bend to the administration's political interests, a House investigation alleges.

The Democratic-led House select subcommittee on the coronavirus crisis said interviews with top officials who worked at the CDC and Department of Health and Human Services during the time, including former Director Dr. Robert Redfield, emails, and other evidence revealed how Trump-appointed aides "usurped control of CDC communications" and overruled top scientists to water down messaging regarding faith communities, polling locations and voters, and testing.

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"The Select Subcommittee’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," said Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-SC), chairman of the subcommittee. "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."

The 94-page report is the third released from the subcommittee as part of its wide-ranging investigation into the government's response to the coronavirus pandemic. Top agency staff claimed that CDC guidance was tightly controlled, requiring officials at other agencies, such as the Office of Management and Budget, to review it, leading to language being revised and delays in sending out information to the public.

Redfield said there were several occasions when coronavirus guidance was "compromised." The report detailed that Trump administration officials intervened with guidance drafted by the CDC for faith communities to worship safely and later replaced it with a "watered-down version drafted by the White House."

The investigation also alleges that senior HHS officials attempted to "alter the contents, rebut, or delay the release" of at least 19 scientific reports related to the pandemic concerning coronavirus prevention practices, the use of cloth face coverings, and coronavirus outbreaks at several summer camps in Maine in 2020 that were deemed harmful to former President Donald Trump.

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The report concluded that the Trump administration's political interference in the early days of the coronavirus crisis has harmed public trust in the nation's public health agencies. In August, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky outlined plans to overhaul the CDC to improve the agency's communications with the public and prioritize public health needs faster, citing its failure to meet expectations in its response to the coronavirus pandemic.

 

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Tags: News, Trump administration, CDC, Coronavirus, Donald Trump

Original Author: Abigail Adcox

Original Location: Trump team bent COVID-19 guidance for politics, House Democratic investigation alleges

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