As some of Trump’s closest allies start to distance themselves from his administration, new information about how the White House grossly mismanaged the COVID-19 pandemic during this extremely tense election year is slowly coming to light.
The New York Times interviewed two senior members of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention after House Democrats began investigating whether political interference hampered the agency’s ability to do its job. Former chief of staff Kyle McGowan, and his deputy Amanda Campbell, went on record with the paper to reveal just how widespread and debilitating the influence of Trump’s administration was in preventing the CDC from enacting measures that could have slowed the spread of the virus.
In a wide-ranging talk, McGowan, who worked under Trump’s health secretary Tom Price before his appointment at the agency, shared how even the simplest guidelines on social distancing were heavily edited to prevent blowback on Trump and to protect businesses. (One of Trump’s biggest campaign points was the economy.) McGowan also detailed how other senior advisers to the president, people like Kellyanne Conway and Ivanka Trump, often directly interfered in mandates the CDC advocated for. Conway opposed restrictions on choirs and communion in faith communities, presumably because the strongest faction of Trump’s base identifies as Evangelicals. And Ivanka Trump took issue with the CDC’s recommendations when it came to schooling.
“Every time that the science clashed with the messaging, messaging won,” Mr. McGowan said.
McGowan listed other examples of increasingly bizarre interference on behalf of the White House including the Trump administration’s insistence that the agency do away with its COVID tracking app because the president’s team had already made a deal with Apple to partner on the tech giant’s program. Both McGowan and Campbell, along with a handful of other staffers, have since left the agency but as he told The Times, the damage done by Trump’s handling of the virus will take years for the CDC to overcome.
“Damage has been done to the C.D.C. that will take years to undo,” he said. “And that’s terrible to hear because it happened under my time there.”
(Via New York Times)