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Trump appointees sought to alter CDC scientific reports so they don’t contradict or undermine the president

AP20075710825084 The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is shown Sunday, March 15, 2020, in Atlanta.

An email obtained by Politico testifies a Trump political appointee accusing career scientists at the CDC of undermining the president’s messaging on COVID-1 9. “CDC to me appears to be writing slam fragments on the government departments, ” Dr. Paul Alexander, a scientific advisor to agency spokesperson Michael Caputo, wrote in the Aug. 8 email. Caputo and Alexander appear to have successfully delayed publication of a CDC report that recommended against using hydroxychloroquine, a malaria drug falsely touted by President Trump as a potential antidote for COVID-1 9, Politico reported. “Nothing got to go unless I read and agree with the findings … and I tweak it to ensure it is fair and balanced and ‘complete, ‘” Alexander said in the email. Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Trump administration officials have sought to water down reports from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Politico reported Friday night, with one political appointee accusing career scientists of trying to undermine the president’s campaign to reopen schools.

“CDC to me appears to be writing slam articles on the government departments, ” Dr. Paul Alexander, a scientific advisor to agency spokesperson Michael Caputo, wrote in an Aug. 8 email to CDC Director Robert Redfield. Alexander, who was appointed this spring by Caputo, a former Trump campaign official, accused scientists of seeking to “hurt the president, ” according to the email obtained by Politico.

Caputo and its communications personnel have worked to delay CDC reports that contradict President Donald Trump’s rhetoric. One book was held back for about a month, according to Politico, for recommending against the use of hydroxychloroquine, a malaria drug touted by the White House as a potential cure for COVID-1 9.

The reports, written by career scientists, are known as the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports, and according to Politico, are used to “inform doctors, researchers, and members of the public about how Covid-1 9 is spreading and who is at risk.” Jennifer Kates, of the Kaiser Family Foundation’s world health operate, who has relied on past reports, told Political they are “the go-to place for the public health community to get information that’s scientifically vetted.”

The Food and Drug Administration issued an emergency use authorization of the stimulant in late-March but cancelled it in June after it was found to not enhancing the effectiveness against COVID-1 9 with potentially fatal side-effects. Several science studies have also had demonstrated that hydroxychloroquine is not effective for COVID-1 9.

In the Aug. 8 email, Alexander took particular aim at a scientific report that warned of the threats from reopening schools.

“CDC tried to report as if formerly kids get together, there will be spread and this will impact school re-opening, ” Alexander wrote. “Very misleading by CDC and reproach on them. Their aim is clear.”

Since mid-July, nearly 2,500 schools and campuses have reported substantiated cases of COVID-1 9, are consistent with a database maintained by the National Education Association. Dozens of academies that reopened have been forced to set students and staff in quarantine. There have been at least 34 deaths.

Alexander, in this missive, said any future reports related to the coronavirus “must be read by someone outside of CDC like myself, ” calling previous employment “outrageous” and “lunacy.”

“Nothing to go out unless I read and agree with the findings how they CDC, wrote it and I tweak it to ensure it is fair and balanced and ‘complete, ‘” Alexander told Redfield and other officials.

In a statement to Politico, Caputo defended Alexander, “an Oxford-educated epidemiologist.”

Caputo was appointed to his role at the health department in April is and is a loyalist to Trump . He’s used to work Republican campaigns since the 1980 s and likewise ran as a public-relations consultant for a Russian state-owned energy company in the 1990 s.

Caputo has also asserted plot conjectures including claiming that the Russia probe and the Ukraine investigation, which led to Trump’s impeachment in 2019, were part of a story to “enrich global insiders like Hunter Biden, George Soros, and more.”

“Dr. Alexander admonishes me on pandemic policy and he has been encouraged to share his opinions with other scientists. Like all scientists, his advice is heard and taken or rejected by his peers, ” Caputo said in a statement.

Norman Ornstein, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, a republican think tank, showed the revelation of political intervention with the CDC’s work should motivate legal action.

“The level of corruption involving public health — intending more people dying because of it — by Trump and his minions is so, so high-pitched, and so, so despicable, ” he wrote on Twitter. “All of these people should be prosecuted for reckless endangerment.”

Trump has repeatedly built pretensions about the coronavirus that belied the information presented by public health experts. The president has also admitted to veteran journalist Bob Woodward of downplaying the severity of the coronavirus pandemic early on.

“I wanted to always play it down. I still like playing it down because I don’t want to create a panic, ” Trump told Woodward on March 19.

The CDC did not reply to Business Insider’s request for comment at the time of publication.

Read the full Politico report here >>

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