Select Subcommittee Seeks Interviews with Senior Trump Administration Officials on Pandemic Response Failures
Washington, D.C. (April 11, 2022) – Today, Rep. James E. Clyburn, Chairman of the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, sent letters to two Trump Administration officials who held senior positions at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)—former Assistant Secretary for Health Dr. Brett Giroir and former Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) Dr. Robert Kadlec—seeking documents and transcribed interviews regarding their roles in the federal government’s pandemic response.
“The Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis is investigating the federal government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic in order to better understand what went wrong, identify ways to improve the country’s response, and determine what corrective steps are necessary to ensure our nation is better prepared for any future public health crisis,” Chairman Clyburn noted in the letters. “These investigations have revealed that Trump Administration officials neglected early warnings, failed to adequately prepare for or develop a coordinated national plan to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus, and engaged in a persistent pattern of political interference in the nation’s pandemic response. These failures undermined the nation’s ability to respond effectively to the pandemic.”
The letter to Dr. Giroir, who served as the “testing czar” for the Trump Administration, details the following new evidence obtained by the Select Subcommittee revealing that Dr. Giroir led the effort to weaken testing guidance in August 2020 to assert—contrary to the prevailing scientific consensus voiced by multiple senior public health officials—that individuals exposed to the coronavirus did not necessarily need to get a test:
Dr. Scott Atlas, former Special Advisor to then-President Trump, told the Select Subcommittee that he worked directly with Dr. Giroir to revise the guidance—and that the decision to revise the guidance was made following an early August 2020 phone call between Dr. Atlas, Dr. Giroir, and former Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Robert Redfield. Multiple senior CDC officials—including Dr. Redfield—confirmed to the Select Subcommittee that Dr. Giroir “had the pen” in drafting this revised guidance.
Former White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx, former CDC Principal Deputy Director Dr. Anne Schuchat, and former CDC Incident Manager of the Coronavirus Response Dr. Henry Walke all told the Select Subcommittee that they opposed the decision in August 2020 to make the alterations to CDC testing guidelines endorsed by Dr. Giroir and Dr. Atlas. Dr. Schuchat stated that the guidance “seemed to go against the idea of trying to slow spread and contain ongoing infection from spreading further,” and described the incident as a “low point” that caused “confusion for our partners about why the change was being made.”
Today’s letter to Dr. Kadlec requests information about the widely reported failure to adequately prioritize scaling up the nation’s supply of personal protective equipment in the early stages of the pandemic, the decision to award Emergent BioSolutions, Inc., a $628 million government contract for vaccine production, and the removal of Dr. Rick Bright from his government position for his refusal to push the false narrative that hydroxychloroquine was effective.
Click here to read Chairman Clyburn’s letter to Dr. Giroir, former HHS Assistant Secretary for Health and member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force.
Click here to read Chairman Clyburn’s letter to Dr. Kadlec, former HHS Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response.