“Last night, at about 10:30, reporter Dan Diamond posted another blockbuster story in Politico. Political appointees at the Department of Health and Human Services have been altering the weekly scientific reports issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) following the course of the coronavirus pandemic. They believe the reports are undermining Trump’s cheery pronouncements about the disease, and claim there is a “deep state” at the CDC determined to hurt the president.
Since 1981, career scientists have compiled weekly Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports to inform Americans about trends in disease. These records are not controversial. But in April, Trump passed over scientists to install one of his campaign advisers as assistant secretary of HHS for public affairs. Michael Caputo was a long-time Republican operative, an associate of Roger Stone who had worked for Russia’s Gasprom Media to improve the image of Vladimir Putin in the U.S.
Caputo promptly began trying to change the CDC reports on Covid. Although he has no background in medicine or science, he and his team claim that the scientists are exaggerating the dangers of Covid-19. An aide, Paul Alexander, wrote an email to CDC Director Robert Redfield calling for retroactive modifications to two reports, saying, “CDC to me appears to be writing hit pieces on the administration.” Alexander, recruited by Caputo from his position as an assistant professor of health research at Hamiliton’s McMaster University in Canada, has demanded that the CDC stop issuing reports until he is given the right to review them before publication and to make line edits.
“Our intention is to make sure that evidence, science-based data drives policy through this pandemic—not ulterior deep state motives in the bowels of CDC," Caputo said.
The attack on transparency at the CDC echoes Trump’s attempt to protect acting director of Homeland Security Chad Wolf from testifying before the House Intelligence Committee. On Wednesday, a whistleblower filed a complaint that Wolf and his deputy Ken Cuccinelli have been pressuring intelligence officials to change their reports to bolster Trump’s campaign speeches. Rather than releasing the actual findings of intelligence experts that America’s chief threats come from white supremacists and Russian attacks on the 2020 election, Trump’s men want the intelligence reports altered to suggest that left-wing violence is equal to that of the right-wing thugs, and that Iran and China are as guilty of election interference as the Russians.
Since June, the House Homeland Security Committee has tried to get Wolf to testify before it about worldwide threats to the United States, and it had appeared that he had finally agreed to come on September 17. After Wednesday’s publication of the whistleblower complaint though, the administration did something sneaky to try to keep the House from being able to make him testify.
Trump never officially nominated Wolf for the position he holds, both because keeping his officials “acting” means they are beholden to him, and because Wolf would have a hard time winning confirmation because he had no experience with either law enforcement or intelligence, which the law requires in a Director of Homeland Security. But, thanks to a quirk in the law, Wolf could move into an acting position so long as he had been confirmed by the Senate for a different position. The day the Senate confirmed him as a DHS undersecretary, the resigning acting DHS director switched the line of succession in the department to let Wolf move into the directorship. But, according to the Government Accountability Office, the man who switched the line of succession was himself appointed illegally, and so therefore had no authority to install either Wolf or his deputy, Ken Cuccinelli. So they are both serving illegally.
I know. Clear as mud, right?“
https://heathercoxrichardson.substack.c ... er-12-2020