Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives have launched a probe into the Trump administration's censorship of scientific reports it views as damaging to the re-election bid of President Donald Trump.
The investigation by the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis focuses on two Trump administration political appointees at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). These Trump people are Michael Caputo, HHS assistant secretary of public affairs, and senior advisor Dr. Paul Alexander, an epidemiologist, according to Politico.
Caputo and Dr. Alexander ordered the modification parts of COVID-19 reports from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) they deemed damaging to Trump's reelection. The reports Caputo and Alexander tampered with were those published in the prestigious "MWWR," or the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports. MMWRs are the CDC's regular reports used by health experts and physicians around the U.S., especially during the pandemic.
In its letter to HHS Secretary Alex Azar and CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield, the subcommittee said it wants to determine "the scope of political interference with CDC's scientific reports and other efforts to combat the pandemic, the impact of this interference on CDC's mission, whether this interference is continuing, and the steps that Congress may need to take to stop it before more Americans die needlessly."
Caputo and Alexander reportedly began trying to influence the MMWRs in May. The MMWR issue that month underscored a "rapid acceleration" of cases and issued a warning about a potential forthcoming surge in transmission. Caputo and Alexander saw this and other statements they didn't like as proof the CDC was out to sabotage Trump's reelection bid and his messaging the pandemic in the U.S. is almost over.
Democrats said Caputo and Alexander have "reportedly been especially focused on suppressing truthful CDC reports on risks to children." The probe is led by House Minority Whip Jim Clyburn from South Carolina.
Caputo has admitted to the censorship on behalf of Trump. He said his intention "is to make sure that evidence, science-based data drives policy through this pandemic -- not ulterior deep state motives in the bowels of CDC."
On Sunday, Caputo accused scientists of "sedition" and claimed the CDC had a "resistance unit" aimed at undermining Trump. Caputo also predicted Trump will win reelection and that "the shooting will begin" after his second inauguration.
"If you carry guns, buy ammunition, ladies and gentlemen, because it's going to be hard to get," said Caputo on Facebook.
Alexander accused the CDC of "writing hit pieces on the administration" and complained its reports "will impact school re-opening." He also demanded an "immediate stop" to the MMWR reports pending his personal review.