The former U.S. president Donald Trump's administration prohibited health professionals from giving correct information regarding COVID-19, according to a U.S. congressional investigation released on Monday. According to the paper, this was done to support Trump's overly pessimistic assessment of the outbreak.
Trump received harsh criticism for how he handled the outbreak. He openly supported treatments and medications that lacked scientific backing.
In order to match recommendations with the president's public downplaying of the crisis, senior employees at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) told investigators that Trump aides pressured personnel and attempted to change their reports.
According to the study, officials took"unprecedented steps to insert political appointees into the publication process and rebut CDC's scientific reports, including drafting op-eds and other public messaging designed to directly counteract CDC's findings."
For the 91-page report on the coronavirus outbreak released by the House select panel, investigators spoke with a dozen current and former CDC personnel as well as senior administration figures.
The panel explains how Trump appointees at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) attempted to monopolize the CDC's weekly scientific magazine, the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), by editing or preventing items they thought may be detrimental to Trump. At least five times, Trump appointees were successful in their attempts to "alter the contents, rebut, or delay the release" of 18 MMWRs and a health alert.
In the report, a CDC communications officer complained that an HHS employee who supports Trump had displayed "bully-ish behavior" and made CDC officials "feel threatened." The CDC's deputy director for infectious diseases, Jay Butler, claimed that after his comments were judged "too alarming," he was "not really asked back to do telebriefings."
"The Select Subcommittee's investigation has shown that the previous administration engaged in an unprecedented campaign of political interference in the federal government's pandemic response, which undermined public health to benefit the former president's political goals," panel chairman Jim Clyburn, a Democrat, said.
An earlier report described the Trump administration's attempt to prevent government health authorities from discussing the epidemic in public. Another explained its efforts to persuade the US Food and Drug Administration to renew the emergency authorization for the anti-malaria medication hydroxychloroquine, which Trump was supporting despite the fact that it was unsuccessful in treating COVID-19.
If they take back control of the House or the Senate in November's midterm elections, Republicans have threatened to launch their own investigation and have dismissed the most recent report as political.