September 18, 2020/Media, Press

Will Tillis Condemn Trump’s Political Interference in the Scientific Community?

Trump this week “left no doubt that his short-term electoral considerations are far more important to him than a credible inoculation that Americans trust.” 

Former Pence aide and member of COVID taskforce: “I would wait to make sure that this vaccine is safe and not a prop tied to an election.”

This week, President Trump’s interference in the nation’s scientific and public health community came into full view, as in the span of a few days the President publicly attacked and contradicted his own CDC chief, a former aide to Vice President Pence warned that Trump has a “flat-out disregard for human life” and is politicizing a potential vaccine, and an investigation found that a controversial CDC guidance was not written by scientists, came from “top down,” and only posted over their serious objections.

Now that President Trump is not bothering to hide his political interference in our public health officials’ work, will Senator Tillis publicly condemn him?

Health experts are lamenting the “politicization” of the CDC after Trump’s outburst, which one called “stunning.” President Trump’s Wednesday briefing, where he contradicted his own CDC chief, “left no doubt that [Trump’s] short-term electoral considerations are far more important to him than a credible inoculation that Americans trust.”

This week’s events come after separate investigations last week found political appointees tried to “intimidate” CDC officials and “water down their communications to health professionals” and strong armed officials as part of “a pressure campaign by the White House” that left scientists “increasingly worried that the White House could exert greater pressure to approve a vaccine before Election Day, even in the absence of agreement on its effectiveness and safety.”

Will Senator Tillis stand up to the White House and their attempts to pressure, intimidate, and politicize our public health officials, or will he yet again stay silent?


Washington Post: Former Pence aide says she will vote for Biden because of Trump’s ‘flat-out disregard for human life’ during pandemic
By Josh Dawsey
September 17, 2020

Key Points:

  • President Trump’s response to the coronavirus pandemic showed a “flat-out disregard for human life” because his “main concern was the economy and his reelection,” according to a senior adviser on the White House coronavirus task force who left the White House in August.
  • Olivia Troye, who worked as homeland security, counterterrorism and coronavirus adviser to Vice President Pence for two years, said that the administration’s response cost lives and that she will vote for Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden this fall because of her experience in the Trump White House.
  • “The president’s rhetoric and his own attacks against people in his administration trying to do the work, as well as the promulgation of false narratives and incorrect information of the virus have made this ongoing response a failure,” she said in an interview.
  • Troye had an inside view of the White House’s pandemic response, which polls show is hurting the president with voters, and her review of the effort is scathing. She said in an interview that she would be skeptical of any vaccine produced ahead of the election because of worries that its release was due to political pressure.
  • “I would not tell anyone I care about to take a vaccine that launches prior to the election,” she said. “I would listen to the experts and the unity in pharma. And I would wait to make sure that this vaccine is safe and not a prop tied to an election.”

New York Times: C.D.C. Testing Guidance Was Published Against Scientists’ Objections
By Apoorva Mandavilli
September 17, 2020

Key Points:

  • A heavily criticized recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last month about who should be tested for the coronavirus was not written by C.D.C. scientists and was posted to the agency’s website despite their serious objections, according to several people familiar with the matter as well as internal documents obtained by The New York Times.
  • “That was a doc that came from the top down, from the H.H.S. and the task force,” said a federal official with knowledge of the matter, referring to the White House task force on the coronavirus. “That policy does not reflect what many people at the C.D.C. feel should be the policy.”
  • The question of the C.D.C.’s independence and effectiveness as the nation’s top public health agency has taken on increasing urgency as the nation approaches 200,000 deaths from the coronavirus pandemic and Mr. Trump continues to criticize its scientists and disregard their assessments.

CNN: Trump’s not bothering to hide his political interference in vaccine push
By Stephen Collinson
September 17, 2020

Key Points:

  • President Donald Trump’s political interference in the scientific and ethical process underwriting the quest for a Covid-19 vaccine — on stunning display on a chaotic Wednesday — is deepening the damage of his disastrous pandemic response.
  • In a breathtaking spell of propagandizing, a President who has no medical expertise and has incessantly downplayed the emergency bulldozed into the White House Briefing Room to kneecap one of the nation’s top health officials, Dr. Robert Redfield. The head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had told lawmakers it could be fall 2021 before there are sufficient vaccine stocks to allow normal life to resume. He also said masks work.
  • “I think he got the message maybe confused,” the President said of the vaccine comments and added that Redfield “didn’t understand the question” on masks — even though the doctor’s answers had been clearly considered and carefully worded.
  • The President’s undercutting of Redfield came in a week in which he has repeatedly rejected the best advice of health authorities, including by holding an indoor campaign rally. He’s also challenged the science of global warming as historic fires rage in Western states. But he’s not the only top government official chafing at pandemic-induced restrictions that are designed to keep people safe from a highly infectious pathogen.
  • Trump is trying to create an impression of a return to normality before Election Day — one reason he pushed so hard for the return of Big Ten college football, a conference with teams in Midwestern swing states that announced Wednesday it will kick off its season in late October. Announcing a vaccine — whether one has completed clinical trials or not — appears to be a key part of the President’s strategy.
  • And his pressure on Redfield left no doubt that his short-term electoral considerations are far more important to him than a credible inoculation that Americans trust.