May 20, 2020 - Politics & Policy

HHS watchdog targeted by Trump to testify about coronavirus supply shortages

President Trump

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The Health and Human Services principal deputy inspector general, Christi Grimm, will testify before the House Oversight Committee on Tuesday about an April report that found "severe shortages” in coronavirus testing kits and personal protective equipment in U.S. hospitals, a committee spokesperson confirmed to Axios.

Why it matters: President Trump targeted Grimm on Twitter after she published the critical report, tweeting on April 6: "Why didn’t the I.G., who spent 8 years with the Obama Administration (Did she Report on the failed H1N1 Swine Flu debacle where 17,000 people died?), want to talk to the Admirals, Generals, V.P. & others in charge, before doing her report. Another Fake Dossier!"

  • Trump has since nominated assistant U.S. attorney Jason Weida to replace Grimm as HHS inspector general.
  • It's one of several steps Trump has taken to purge federal watchdogs for conducting oversight over his administration.

The big picture: Grimm's testimony could prove to be a rare moment of high-profile public scrutiny for the administration after the White House banned members of the coronavirus task force from testifying in the House during May.

  • Rick Bright, the former head of a top vaccine agency, testified to a House subcommittee this month that he was told his repeated warnings about the Trump administration's lack of preparedness for the coronavirus were "causing a commotion."
  • Grimm's appearance, which is being billed as a briefing rather than a hearing, will be conducted via teleconference.

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