If the American people have learned anything about Donald Trump, it’s that he only appoints people whom he knows will do his bidding, no matter how low they might have to stoop to stay in his good graces. Endangering the public is one of the few things Trump does successfully, and therefore surrounds himself with subordinates who will yes him to death–literally.
One of Trump’s appointees, former Health and Human Services science adviser Paul Alexander, repeatedly urged top health officials to adopt a “herd immunity” approach to Covid-19 and allow millions of Americans to be infected by the virus, according to internal emails obtained by the House Oversight Committee that were shared with the website POLITICO.In his emails, Alexander also spent months attacking government scientists and pushing to shape official statements to be more favorable to Trump, who at the time was still denying the deadliness of the virus. “So the bottom line is if it is more infectiouness [sic] now, the issue is who cares?” Alexander wrote in a July 3 email to the health department’s top communications officials. “If it is causing more cases in young, my word is who cares…as long as we make sensible decisions, and protect the elderely [sic] and nursing homes, we must go on with life….who cares if we test more and get more positive tests.”
Alexander wrote another email on July 4 to his then-boss, Health and Human Services assistant secretary for public affairs Michael Caputo, and six other senior officials, saying “There is no other way, we need to establish herd, and it only comes about allowing the non-high risk groups expose themselves to the virus. PERIOD.”
Rep. Jim Clyburn of South Carolina, who chairs the coronavirus subcommittee, said in a statement that the documents “show a pernicious pattern of political interference by Administration officials.”
“As the virus spread through the country, these officials callously wrote, ‘who cares’ and ‘we want them infected,'” Clyburn added. “They privately admitted they ‘always knew’ the President’s policies would cause a ‘rise’ in cases, and they plotted to blame the spread of the virus on career scientists.”
I am deeply troubled that, instead of promoting the best available science needed to keep Americans safe, the Trump Admin has played politics with a pandemic that has claimed the lives of more than 300,000 of our fellow Americans.
— James E. Clyburn (@WhipClyburn) December 16, 2020
The health department has worked to distance itself from Alexander since his mid-September departure. Clyburn said that the documents — which the Trump administration only released to his subcommittee after the election, more than two months after his probe began — underscore why HHS must cooperate with his investigation and that CDC Director Redfield must appear for an interview about an email that he allegedly told staff to delete. Otherwise, “I will be forced to start issuing subpoenas,” Clyburn said.