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President Donald Trump slammed a “whistleblower” former government doctor as a “disgruntled employee” and his press secretary accused him of “not paying attention” as the immunologist testified before Congress about the administration’s response to the coronavirus crisis.
“It sounds like Mr. Bright hasn’t been paying much attention at all,” White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said on Fox News Thursday, reacting to testimony Thursday from Dr. Rick Bright, the ousted director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, who claimed the “pandemic playbook” was ignored by Trump.
(Source: Fox News)
“Initially our nation was not as prepared as we should have been, as we could have been,” Bright told the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee in his opening statement. “Some scientists raised early warning signals that were overlooked and pages from our pandemic playbook were ignored by some in leadership.”
McEnany blasted Bright for making recommendations about actions the Trump administration had already taken, including having a pandemic plan in place even before the coronavirus outbreak which originated in China.
“It sounds like this is someone who’s reacting and making suggestions that have long been put into play,” she said, also criticizing Bright’s complaint that scientists are not being allowed to speak out, pointing out how medical experts from the administration’s team – such as Dr. Anthony Fauci – regularly make the media rounds.
“We have the world’s greatest scientists. Let us lead, let us speak without fear of retribution,” Bright said during his opening remarks before Congress.
The president tweeted that he “never met” or “even heard of” Bright, who alleged he was fired from his job and filed a whistleblower complaint last week.
“I don’t know the so-called Whistleblower Rick Bright, never met him or even heard of him, but to me he is a disgruntled employee, not liked or respected by people I spoke to and who, with his attitude, should no longer be working for our government!” Trump tweeted Thursday morning.
I don’t know the so-called Whistleblower Rick Bright, never met him or even heard of him, but to me he is a disgruntled employee, not liked or respected by people I spoke to and who, with his attitude, should no longer be working for our government!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 14, 2020
Bright accused the Trump administration of allegedly putting “politics and cronyism” ahead of science last month, and claimed he was removed from his job, moved to a lower position at the National Institutes of Health after he “resisted efforts to promote” the use of hydroxychloroquine against COVID-19.
His complaint alleged that he “encountered resistance from HHS leadership, including Secretary (Alex) Azar, who appeared intent on downplaying this catastrophic event.”
Gov’t doc claiming unfair demotion over hydroxychloroquine debate lawyers-up with Blasey Ford team https://t.co/6Oc0mMRihT
— Conservative News (@BIZPACReview) April 23, 2020
Bright warned that the US will face “unprecedented illness and fatalities” in his remarks before Congress Thursday. He contended in his opening remarks that he was reassigned because he felt the funds being allocated by the government to combat the coronavirus should be put “into safe and scientifically vetted solutions, and not in drugs, vaccines and other technologies that lack scientific merit.”
“What we do must be done carefully and with guidance from the best scientific minds. Our window of opportunity is closing,” Bright said in his opening remarks.
“If we fail to develop a national coordinated response, based in science, I fear the pandemic will get far worse and be prolonged, causing unprecedented illness and fatalities,” he said, warning of a “resurgence” of COVID-19 in the fall. “Without better planning, 2020 could be the darkest winter in modern history.”
Before Bright had even begun, Republicans were already pointing out problems at the hearing, objecting to the fact that the whistleblower was not put under oath before testifying.
MOMENTS AGO: Rick Bright is not put under oath before House testimony despite GOP objections. pic.twitter.com/kp8EZZ7wbG
— The Hill (@thehill) May 14, 2020
There was also buzz about Bright’s attorney, Debra Katz.
Here is something interesting: Whistleblower Rick Bright is represented at the House coronavirus hearing today by Debra Katz.
Her last high profile client? Christine Blasey Ford who first brought her story to Rep. Anna Eshoo.
Eshoo is also the chair of the Health subcommittee.
— Philip Wegmann (@PhilipWegmann) May 14, 2020
Meanwhile, Bright’s apparent inconsistencies were called out by observers as the testimony unfolded Thursday.
Flashback: “If Bright opposed hydroxychloroquine, he certainly didn’t make that clear from his email — quite the opposite”
— Oversight Committee Republicans (@GOPoversight) May 14, 2020
** This is a developing story**
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