Representative Jim Cleburn, who chairs the House Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, on Thursday raised concerns that the episode was part of “a deliberate effort by the Trump administration to conceal and destroy evidence” of political interference in the response to the pandemic. In a letter to Redfield and HHS Secretary Alex Azar said directing employees to delete the documents was unethical and possibly violating federal record-keeping requirements, according to a copy shared with Politico.
In the letter, Kleburn warned: “Federal employees have firm obligations to preserve documents, and it is likely that destroying federal records will be illegal.” “Federal law also provides for up to three years of imprisonment for the deliberate destruction of federal records.”
Redfield did not deny in a statement on Thursday afternoon telling employees to delete the email, though he said he had instructed them to “ignore Dr. Alexander’s comments.”
“As I testified before Congress, I am fully committed to preserving the independence of MMWR, and I stand by that statement,” said Redfield.
Politico I mentioned it first On September 11th, Alexander demanded – and obtained – the right to review CDC reports, with the approval of senior HHS officials. The agency’s MMWR reports, written by professional scientists, are usually devoid of political interference, and the revelations that Trump officials sought to alter their findings have alarmed the public health experts who rely on them. Democrats later announced an investigation into the Trump administration’s interactions with federal science agencies.
A spokesperson for HHS, while ignoring questions about whether Redfield had asked employees to delete the email, said that the House subcommittee had incorrectly described Kent’s comments – a complaint echoed by the most senior Republicans on the committee.
A HHS spokesperson said: “We urge the subcommittee to release the text in full which will show that during her testimony Dr. Kent has repeatedly said that there has been no political interference in the MMWR process.”
Kent did not respond to a request for comment.
She also told investigators that, in a previous incident, the CDC published a July report on the spread of the Coronavirus in a summer camp in Georgia after “the delay required by Dr. Redfield and HHS.” The report was held for two days and instead was released about 15 minutes after Redfield finished his testimony before the Claiborne Commission.
Cleburne said the subcommittee was still awaiting its documents I ordered on September 14th. In his letter, he also threatened to summon HHS and CDC if they did not comply with its sub-committee’s ongoing investigation.
After Kent interviewed investigators on Monday, HHS canceled four interviews that were due to be held with senior CDC personnel, including CDC Deputy Principal Anne Schuchat, Acting Chief of Staff Nina Whitkovsky, and Acting Deputy Chief of Staff Trey Mueller. And Communications Officer Kate Galatas. According to the Supervisory Committee, HHS complained that the committee overstepped its investigation during the Kent interview.
The HHS spokesman, who requested anonymity, said the subcommittee was “not acting in good faith”. House Whip Steve Scales, the top Republican on the Coronavirus Subcommittee, said the Democrats’ investigation uncovered “no evidence of actual interference with the CDC’s scientific reporting.”
Alexander, who has since left HHS, spent months pushing professional science officials to align their messages with downplaying the virus. in September, Try to stop him Infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci from speaking about the dangers of Corona virus for children. In a September 11 email previously obtained by Politico, Alexander also urged CDC officials to change a report on the risks of the virus to young Americans. This complicates the agency’s own efforts To review this report.
In Alexander’s August 8th letter, which Politico had previously obtained, he insisted that “all CDC reports be discontinued immediately due to incomplete reporting.”
Alexander added, in breach of the scientific firewall maintained by the CDC: “There is nothing to get out of it unless I read and agree to the findings written by the CDC and amend them to make sure they are fair, balanced and complete.” Decades.
In the lengthy email, which switches between a red and black line and shaded text in yellow and blue, Alexander made demands for retroactive changes to the CDC’s reports and insisted that the agency’s professional scientists were trying to sabotage Trump’s re-election bid.
HHS announced on September 16 that Alexander was He will be taken out of the departmentOn the same day Kabuto left.