Accurate Covid-19 information may have been blocked by former US president Trump’s aides

Former US President Donald Trump is facing an investigation over his former aides blocking the release of accurate Covid-19 information. According to the Straits Times, senior staff members at the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) claimed that the former president’s aides bullied staff and tried to rewrite their reports to align them with the former president’s downplaying of the Covid pandemic.

A recent congressional report says that 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.”

Investigators interviewed 12 current and former CDC officials and senior administration officials for the report. The panel describes how Trump appointees at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)tried to take over the CDC’s weekly scientific journal, the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWRs), editing or blocking articles that they believed might be harmful to Trump.

The report further said that those appointees sought to “alter the contents, rebut, or delay the release” of 18 MMWRs and a health alert, which succeeded on at least five different occasions. It also quoted a CDC communications officer who complained that a Trump ally in HHS had used “bully-ish behaviour” that made CDC officials “feel threatened.”

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The CDC’s deputy director of infectious diseases said he was “not really asked back to do telebriefings” after his statements were deemed “too alarming.” Panel chairman, Jim Clyburn, a Democrat, said the Trump administration engaged in political interference in the federal government’s pandemic response which undermined public health to benefit the former president’s political goals.

“As today’s report shows, President Trump and his top aides repeatedly attacked CDC scientists, compromised the agency’s public health guidance, and suppressed scientific reports in an effort to downplay the seriousness of the coronavirus.”

Republicans have dismissed the latest report as partisan and are vowing to conduct their own inquiry if they win back the House or Senate in November.

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Ann Carter

Ann Carter is an award-winning journalist from the United States with over 12 years experience in print and broadcast news. Her work has been featured in America, China and Thailand as she has worked internationally at major news stations as a writer and producer. Carter graduated from the Walter Williams Missouri School of Journalism in the USA.

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