Feb 1, 2018

The search for a new CDC director

Photo: Joe Raedle / Getty Images

The search is on for a new director for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, following Brenda Fitzgerald’s resignation amid a growing uproar over financial conflicts of interest.

Between the lines:

  • Fitzgerald came to the CDC from Georgia’s health department — she was an ally of former HHS secretary Tom Price. Her departure gives the new HHS secretary, Alex Azar, a visible symbolic break from the ethical problems that ultimately defined, and ended, Price’s brief tenure.
  • The situation was also getting untenable even with Republicans on Capitol Hill. “There was already strong concern due to her recusal issues and then when news broke about her tobacco purchases, the dam of frustration broke,” a GOP aide told Politico.

The impact: At least in theory, this is not a great time for the CDC to be without a Senate-confirmed leader. We’re in the middle of a massive and deadly flu season, and the CDC is in charge of helping to coordinate the response among federal, state and local agencies, as well as tracking the virus.

  • The opioid epidemic also rages on, and there, too, CDC’s monitoring programs make it a critically important player.

Yes, but: The opioid crisis was one of the areas from which Fitzgerald had partially recused herself due to financial conflicts. For now, the agency is in the hands of principal deputy director Anne Schuchat, who’s been at the CDC for a long time.

  • And even though finding a new director will take some time, having someone who’s able to work on these issues — and communicate with Capitol Hill about them — might be worth the wait, especially as Azar looks to turn the page on a troubled year at HHS.

Go deeper

Trump says he will campaign against Lisa Murkowski after her support for Mattis

Trump with Barr and Meadows outside St. John's Episcopal church in Washington, D.C. on June 1. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump tweeted on Thursday that he would endorse "any candidate" with a pulse who runs against Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska).

Driving the news: Murkowski said on Thursday that she supported former defense secretary James Mattis' condemnation of Trump over his response to protests in the wake of George Floyd's killing. She described Mattis' statement as "true, honest, necessary and overdue," Politico's Andrew Desiderio reports.

5 hours ago - World

The president vs. the Pentagon

Trump visits Mattis and the Pentagon in 2018. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty

Over the course of just a few hours, President Trump was rebuffed by the Secretary of Defense over his call for troops in the streets and accused by James Mattis, his former Pentagon chief, of trampling the Constitution for political gain.

Why it matters: Current and former leaders of the U.S. military are drawing a line over Trump's demand for a militarized response to the protests and unrest that have swept the country over the killing of George Floyd by police.

New York Times says Tom Cotton op-ed did not meet standards

Photo: Avalon/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

A New York Times spokesperson said in a statement Thursday that the paper will be changing its editorial board processes after a Wednesday op-ed by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), which called for President Trump to "send in the troops" in order to quell violent protests, failed to meet its standards.

Why it matters: The shift comes after Times employees began a coordinated movement on social media on Wednesday and Thursday that argued that publishing the op-ed put black staff in danger. Cotton wrote that Trump should invoke the Insurrection Act in order to deploy the U.S. military against rioters that have overwhelmed police forces in cities across the country.