Select Subcommittee Analysis Shows Pattern of Political Interference by the Trump Administration in Coronavirus Response

Oct 2, 2020
Press Release
Officials Attacked and Undermined Health Experts at Least 47 Times in 8 Months

Washingon, D.C. (October 2, 2020) -- Today, the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis released a new staff analysis examining instances of political interference in the Trump Administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.  The analysis shows that Administration officials have repeatedly injected partisan politics into public health decisions  over the course of the pandemic.


The report explains:  “The analysis demonstrates that over the last eight months, the Administration engaged in a persistent pattern of political interference—repeatedly overruling and sidelining top scientists and undermining Americans’ health to advance the President’s partisan agenda.”


Today’s staff analysis found at least 47 separate incidents of political interference in the Administration’s coronavirus response spanning from February through September 2020.  These incidents have impacted every major facet of the Administration’s public health response and appear to be increasing in number and severity as the election draws near.


The analysis shows that President Trump, Vice President Pence, White House officials, and political appointees at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and other agencies have:


·       Pressured health experts to adopt the Administration’s talking points, even when they conflict with the science;

·       Criticized, sidelined, and fired experts who insisted on sharing accurate scientific information with the public;

·       Altered, delayed, and suppressed guidance and scientific reports on testing, protecting children, reopening schools, voting safely, and other topics;

·       Authorized questionable virus treatments over the objections of scientists;

·       Resisted efforts to ensure the safe development of a vaccine; and

·       Diverted $265 million from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration for an ad campaign to “defeat despair and inspire hope” weeks before Election Day.


The analysis is based on public reporting and the Select Subcommittee’s investigations.  The analysis is limited to instances where the Administration actively interfered in the nation’s public health response through direct executive action or public or private pressure.  It does not capture each instance in which President Trump or his appointees downplayed the danger of the virus to the public, made false and misleading statements about the science, and misstated key facts about the Administration’s response.


The Select Subcommittee is continuing to investigate political interference in the Trump Administration’s coronavirus response.  For example:


On June 22, Chairman James E. Clyburn sent a letter seeking documents about possible efforts by the White House to limit coronavirus testing in the United States.


On July 15, Chairman Clyburn and all Democratic Members of the Select Subcommittee launched an investigation into contracts entered into by the Trump Administration to procure personal protective equipment (PPE), testing supplies, and other medical equipment.


On July 17, the Select Subcommittee sent a joint letter to HHS seeking information on the diversion of data away from CDC.  On July 28, the Select Subcommittee sent a follow-up letter to Michael Zamagias, Chairman and CEO of TeleTracking Technologies, seeking information regarding the company’s data collection contract with HHS.


On August 12, Chairman Clyburn sent letters on potential conflicts of interest in Operation Warp Speed.  On September 22, the Select Subcommittee released documents showing that several consultants, including Operation Warp Speed Chief Advisor Dr. Moncef Slauoi, appear to have unresolved conflicts of interest.


On August 26, Chairman Clyburn urged CDC to swiftly reverse its decision to not recommend testing for asymptomatic individuals.  On September 19, CDC reversed this dangerous and overtly political guidance.


On September 11, the Select Subcommittee sent a joint letter calling on the Trump Administration to suspend a $250 million public relations contract to “defeat despair,” which appears to be intended to create a thinly-veiled political ad campaign.  On October 1, the Select Subcommittee sent joint follow-up letters on a related $15 million contract.


On September 14, the Select Subcommittee launched an investigation into political interference in CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports (MMWRs).


Click here to read today’s analysis.



116th Congress