Sep 14, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Democrats to probe Trump appointees who allegedly interfered with CDC reports

HHS Secretary Alex Azar
HHS Secretary Alex Azar. Photo by Joshua Roberts/Getty Images

House Democrats are launching an investigation into how Trump's political appointees pressured officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention "to block the publication of accurate scientific reports" on COVID-19, according to a letter first obtained by Politico.

Details: Citing previous reporting that Trump aides "openly complained" that the CDC's reports would undermine the president's positive message, Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) and the other Democratic members of the subcommittee on the coronavirus wrote to HHS Secretary Alex Azar and CDC director Robert Redfield to request "transcribed interviews and documents."

What they're saying: "With nearly 200,000 Americans killed and hundreds more dying each day from the coronavirus pandemic, the public needs and deserves truthful scientific information so they can keep themselves and their families healthy," Clyburn and the other Democrats wrote.

  • "Yet in discussing the coronavirus outbreak in March 2020, President Trump admitted, 'I wanted to always play it down' and, 'I still like playing it down.' We are gravely concerned by reports showing that the President’s political appointees at HHS have sought to help him downplay the risks of the coronavirus crisis by attempting to alter, delay, and block critical scientific reports from CDC."

Michael Caputo, a former Trump campaign official and now the main spokesperson at HHS has defended the aides' actions, telling Politico that "[b]uried in this good [CDC] work are sometimes stories which seem to purposefully mislead and undermine the President’s Covid response with what some scientists label as poor scholarship — and others call politics disguised in science."

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