SOS Political Interference Tracker
This tracker compiles the many reports of the Trump Administration interfering with the scientific work of experts at the nation’s public health agencies for President Trump’s own political benefit.
Any one of these examples of political pressure would be alarming on their own, but together they paint a clear pattern of interference that is downright terrifying. We can’t just expect that the Trump Administration will stop its political interference on its own. Congress has to act to make it stop.
The Science and Transparency Over Politics Act, or the STOP Act, is a much-needed first step to put an end to this Administration’s political meddling. It would create a task force to conduct a thorough investigation into political interference in our public health agencies. The reports from this task force would be released to committees of jurisdiction, and the task force would have full discretion to release any information that it deems is in the public interest and may be important to public safety.
Politico reports Ron Sanders, a top official at the White House Office of Presidential Personnel, resigned in protest over an executive order that would make it easier for the Trump Administration to remove career civil servants — like top scientists at the nation’s public health agencies. The resignation letter from Sanders reads, “[I]t is clear that its stated purpose notwithstanding, the Executive Order is nothing more than a smokescreen for what is clearly an attempt to require the political loyalty of those who advise the President, or failing that, to enable their removal with little if any due process.”
Trump federal salary adviser quits post over executive order reclassifying workers
Trump named Sanders, who also served under the Bush administration, to the position in December 2017. The advisory…
The Wall Street Journal reports that Trump Administration officials offered to give Santa performers priority access to COVID-19 vaccines in exchange for their help with an effort promoting vaccines. The proposal was scrapped amid mounting scrutiny of the Administration’s planned campaign.
WSJ News Exclusive | Health Agency Halts Coronavirus Ad Campaign, Leaving Santa Claus in the Cold
A federal health agency halted a public-service coronavirus advertising campaign funded by $250 million in taxpayer…
The Washington Post reports that the Trump Administration tried to pressure CDC officials into signing a statement saying that using hotels to detain migrant children was the best way to protect them from COVID-19 — a statement unsupported by scientific fact. CDC officials reportedly refused.
Trump administration pressures CDC to back detention of migrant children in border hotels amid…
The Trump administration has been pressuring health experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to…
Politico reports that Secretary Azar is considering removing FDA Commissioner Hahn after recent efforts by the agency to resist the Trump Administration’s political interference in science-based decisions.
An angry Azar floats plans to oust FDA's Hahn
European nations are shutting down. Countries in Asia are tentatively resuming normal life after taking swift action at…
Additional reporting from the New York Times reveals that Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, White House Adviser Jared Kushner, and President Trump himself all called FDA Commissioner Hahn personally to pressure him to rush the decision to greenlight COVID-19 vaccines and treatments.
How the F.D.A. Stood Up to the President
The Road to a Coronavirus Vaccine After months of caving to pressures from the White House, Commissioner Stephen Hahn…
The Wall Street Journal reports the White House made line-by-line edits to official CDC health guidance and pressed CDC Director Redfield to declare houses of worship essential.
A Demoralized CDC Grapples With White House Meddling and Its Own Mistakes
President Trump and his advisers have taken a more hands-on role than previously known in shaping Covid-19…
Politico reports the FDA has been under political pressure from the Trump Administration to relabel FDA authorization of a COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use a “pre-licensure.”
FDA pushes back on Trump administration attempt to rebrand 'emergency authorization'
While Congress mandated earlier this year that Medicare cover the cost of administering a licensed vaccine, the…
The New York Times reports that the White House overruled CDC experts and blocked a requirement that masks be worn on public transportation.
White House Blocked C.D.C. From Requiring Masks on Public Transportation
The order would have mandated that both passengers and employees wear face coverings on planes, trains, buses and…
The Washington Post reports that President Trump and his Chief of Staff Mark Meadows have been pressuring the FDA to speed up its review of monoclonal antibody treatments for COVID-19.
Trump politicizes promising coronavirus antibody treatments, erroneously calling them a 'cure'
After months of touting coronavirus vaccines that would land before Election Day, President Trump made an abrupt pivot…
Former BARDA head, Dr. Rick Bright resigns from NIH. He wrote in the Washington Post that the Administration has jeopardized public health and safety and politicized the pandemic response, and that he was leaving because he had been effectively barred from working to fight the pandemic.
Opinion | I couldn't sit idly and watch people die from Trump's chaotic, politicized pandemic…
Of all the tools required for an effective U.S. response to the coronavirus pandemic, one that is sorely missing is the…
President Trump calls new FDA guidance for issuing an emergency use authorization for vaccines, a “political hit job.” According to the New York Times the White House had initially blocked FDA from releasing the guidelines over political concerns.
White House Blocks New Coronavirus Vaccine Guidelines
The F.D.A. proposed stricter guidelines for emergency approval of a coronavirus vaccine, but the White House chief of…
Politico reports that the CDC edited a scientific report on kids and COVID-19 following a request from a Trump Administration official.
CDC changed report on Covid and kids after Trump official's request
WASHINGTON - In early September, as many school districts were still deciding whether to hold in-person classes, the…
AP reports that CDC was ordered by Vice President Pence to use its authority to close the U.S. borders, after the agency’s experts refused to do so.
Pence ordered borders closed after CDC experts refused
NEW YORK (AP) - Vice President Mike Pence in March directed the nation's top disease control agency to use its…
The New York Times reports that the CDC silently changed its guidance on voting to remove language about mail-in voting being safer than in-person voting, and to wrongly claim mail-in voting can make it more difficult for voters with disabilities to exercise their right to vote.
Takeaways on Trump, Voter Fraud and the Election
A New York Times Magazine investigation finds that misleading and false claims about widespread voter fraud are part of…
Axios reports that CDC Director Robert Redfield was overruled by VP Pence when he pushed to extend the “no-sail order” through February 2021 due to COVID-19’s severity and its ability to spread on cruises. This is after reports in April that VP Pence forced the CDC to shorten its original “no-sail” order.
CDC director overruled on cruise ship ban
Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, was overruled when he pushed to extend…
The New York Times reports that the Trump Administration pressured the CDC to issue guidance that was favorable for opening up schools.
Behind the White House Effort to Pressure the C.D.C. on School Openings
Documents and interviews show how senior officials sought to play down the risks of sending children back to the…
ABC News reports that a CDC scientist claims a study on masks was “slow-walked” until President Trump wore one.
Amid pandemic, confidence in CDC erodes with questions of political interference
Jack Barile had been waiting much of the summer for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to publish his…
MSNBC reports that Dr. Redfield personally requested changes to an Epi-Aid report to soften safety recommendations for a meatpacking plant.
CDC director's office ordered softening of coronavirus safety protocols for meat plant
In a TRMS exclusive, Rachel Maddow reports on the CDC changing the language on its own coronavirus safety protocols for…
After the Washington Post reported that FDA was planning to issue guidance with scientific criteria for authorization of COVID-19 vaccines for emergency use, President Trump tried to undermine the guidance and said he may block it.
FDA poised to announce tougher standards for a covid-19 vaccine that make it unlikely one will be…
Please Note The Washington Post is providing this important information about the coronavirus for free. For more free…
The New York Times reports that Secretary Azar has barred the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) from signing any new rules without his approval.
In 'Power Grab,' Health Secretary Azar Asserts Authority Over F.D.A.
Experts said the memo would make it more difficult for the F.D.A. to issue new rules, but it's unclear how it would…
Emails Detail Effort to Silence C.D.C. and Question Its Science
Emails from a former top Trump health official and his science adviser show how the two refused to accept Centers for…
Politico expands on previous reporting to note that Secretary Azar overruled the head of the FDA when Azar moved to strip FDA of its ability to regulate lab developed tests, including COVID-19 tests, allowing unreliable tests to flood the market.
Trump administration limits FDA review of some coronavirus tests
The Trump administration will allow coronavirus tests developed by individual laboratories - including commercial…
The New York Times reports that the spokesperson for the Department of Health and Human Services has promoted false conspiracy theories about the work of experts and scientists at the nation’s public health agencies.
Trump Health Aide Pushes Bizarre Conspiracies and Warns of Armed Revolt
Michael R. Caputo told a Facebook audience without evidence that left-wing hit squads were being trained for…
The New York Times reports that the Trump Administration pressured officials at the FDA and National Institutes of Health (NIH) to authorize convalescent plasma therapy before FDA’s review of its safety and effectiveness was complete.
Trump Pressed for Plasma Therapy. Officials Worry, Is an Unvetted Vaccine Next?
New details of how the president has demanded faster action from health agencies help explain the intensifying concern…
Politico reports that politically appointed Trump Administration officials demanded oversight of reports from CDC experts, and have worked to edit and append findings from CDC experts in its flagship scientific publication, the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
Trump officials interfered with CDC reports on Covid-19
The health department's politically appointed communications aides have demanded the right to review and seek changes…
Politico reports that a Trump Administration appointee was attempting to dictate talking points to NIH officials.
Emails show HHS official trying to muzzle Fauci
Forty four percent of the children and young adults at the unnamed camp tested positive for the virus in June…
CNN reports that the CDC was pressured by the Trump Administration to alter its testing guidance to be more restrictive. This guidance was reversed after an outcry from public health experts.
CDC was pressured 'from the top down' to change coronavirus testing guidance, official says
A sudden change in federal guidelines on coronavirus testing came this week as a result of pressure from the upper…
President Trump tweets accusing the FDA of holding back a vaccine.
Buzzfeed reports that a Trump Administration official and Dr. Slaoui, director of Operation Warp Speed, claim that calls for transparency are meant to slow a vaccine.
Trump Vaccine Adviser Warns That Scrutiny Of Him Will Delay Arrival Of Coronavirus Vaccine
The chief adviser to Operation Warp Speed, the Trump administration's program investing billions of dollars into…
The New York Times reports that the White House ordered the CDC to stop collecting data on COVID-19 illness, hospitalizations, and deaths, instead filtering the data through a third-party contractor at HHS.
Trump Administration Strips C.D.C. of Control of Coronavirus Data
Hospitals have been ordered to bypass the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and send all patient information…
The Washington Post reports that White House trade adviser Peter Navarro is leading a Trump administration effort to demand FDA grant a new EUA for hydroxychloroquine. FDA rejects the EUA request on August 10.
Touting criticized study, White House presses FDA to authorize hydroxychloroquine - again
White House trade adviser Peter Navarro is leading a Trump administration effort to demand the Food and Drug…
The Washington Post reports that senior HHS officials accused the CDC of “undermining the President” when it released the latest information on pregnant women.
CDC feels pressure from Trump as rift grows over coronavirus response
The June 28 email to the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was ominous: A senior adviser to a…
AP reports that the White House blocked the publication of a report on reopening the country. It was eventually published after the White House made substantive changes.
Trump Administration Buries Detailed CDC Advice on Reopening
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) - A set of detailed documents created by the nation's top disease investigators meant to give…
The New York Times reports the head of BARDA claims he was removed from his position for insisting unproven COVID-19 promoted by President Trump be scientifically vetted.
Health Dept. Official Says Doubts on Hydroxychloroquine Led to His Ouster
Rick Bright was abruptly dismissed this week as the director of the Department of Health and Human Services' Biomedical…
After President Trump tweeted about the benefits of hydroxychloroquine in treating COVID-19, the FDA issued an emergency authorization for its use — a move that was largely criticized by former FDA leaders due to its lack of evidence. The EUA was eventually revoked.
Former FDA leaders decry emergency authorization of malaria drugs for coronavirus
Science's COVID-19 reporting is supported by the Pulitzer Center. The recent Food and Drug Administration (FDA)…
AP reports that the White House allegedly overruled CDC officials who “wanted to recommend that elderly and physically fragile Americans be advised not to fly on commercial airlines because of the new coronavirus.”
Official: White House didn't want to tell seniors not to fly
NEW YORK (AP) - The White House overruled health officials who wanted to recommend that elderly and physically fragile…
The New York Times reports that in February, President Trump called Sec. Azar frustrated by CDC expert Dr. Nancy Messonnier warning the public about the likelihood of the pandemic seriously disrupting everyday life.
Inside Trump Administration, Debate Raged Over What to Tell Public
The administration's response to the coronavirus has repeatedly matched public health experts against a hesitant White…
Last updated 10/09/2020