The House Select Committee on the Coronavirus Crisis was put together in April to oversee the Trump Administration’s handling of the pandemic. Since then, the bipartisan committee has mostly flown under the radar — until this week.
The committee subpoenaed documents from the nation’s top medical figures on Monday: Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar and Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Director Robert Redfield. The House committee, which is chaired by Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.), say they are looking into political interference by HHS employees.
In the letter to Redfield and Azar, Rep. Clyburn announced that he was subpoenaing all documents “relating to efforts by political appointees at the Department of Health and Human Services to interfere with scientific work conducted by career officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”
Monday’s letter to Azar and Redfield is the subpoena follow-up to a September 14 letter requesting “transcribed interviews and documents regarding efforts by political appointees at the Department of Health and Human Services to block the publication of accurate scientific reports by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention during the coronavirus crisis.”
The investigation came on the heels of a Politico report claiming that Trump administration officials had been throwing their weight around at the CDC, hoping to put a rosy glow on the coronavirus reports coming out of America’s top public health institute.
In their subpoena letter, the Committee said that their investigation has found that “efforts to interfere with scientific work at CDC were far more extensive and dangerous than previously known.”
“The subpoenas were necessary because the Select Subcommittee’s investigation has revealed that efforts to interfere with scientific work at CDC were far more extensive and dangerous than previously known.”
The committee claimed that they have uncovered at least 13 instances in which Trump appointees “attempted to alter or block… scientific reports related to the virus.”
Specifically, the Trump officials were reportedly angling to downplay evidence of the massive coronavirus spread during the summer and the early spread during the beginning of the year, according to the committee.
The committee found that HHS Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs Michael Caputo and his senior advisor, Dr. Paul Alexander, regularly tried to “influence or block” the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.