Dec 10, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Dem-led committee investigating pandemic accuses CDC of deleting evidence

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Dr. Robert Redfield

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Robert Redfield. Photo: Andrew Harnik-Pool/Getty Images

House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.), the chair of the oversight subcommittee tasked with looking at the coronavirus crisis, accused the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday of concealing evidence that a Trump appointee attempted to influence the agency's scientific case studies.

The big picture: A senior CDC official who heads the agency's "Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report," told Congress this week that director Robert Redfield told staff to delete an email that showed the Trump administration wanted to change language in their coronavirus findings, according to a letter from Clyburn.

The state of play: Federal employees are generally required to preserve documents under the Federal Records Act. The career employee at the CDC, Charlotte Kent, told Congress it was understood her manager's directive to delete the email came from Redfield.

  • The email was from Paul Alexander, a former scientific adviser within the Health and Human Services Department, where he demanded the CDC change language on a scientific report regarding coronavirus risks and children or "stop all reports immediately,” Clyburn said in the letter.

What's next: The subcommittee may issue subpoenas if documents aren’t provided by Dec. 15, per the letter.

  • The CDC has not returned Axios' request for comment.
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