Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer called on Health Secretary Alex Azar to resign Tuesday over charges that President Trump’s political desires are overriding scientific reason at the Department of Health and Human Services.
Mr. Schumer pointed to reports that political appointees demanded edits to scientific reports at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“The secretary of health and human services, Alex Azar, has not only failed to push back against these outrageous moves by President Trump, he has been almost entirely silent about the chaos and mismanagement in his own agency,” Mr. Schumer said. “It has become abundantly clear that the leadership at the Department of Health and Human Services has allowed perhaps the most important federal agency right now to become subservient to the president’s daily whims. So today I’m calling on Secretary Azar to resign immediately.”
Mr. Schumer said Mr. Trump “overstated the benefits of certain treatments” and then pressured the Food and Drug Administration to approve them.
The New York Democrat demanded Mr. Azar’s ouster one day after Democrats on the House Select Committee on the Coronavirus launched a probe of alleged interference in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports (MMWRs) on the virus.
HHS said it will respond to Congress, though one of its top spokesmen, Michael Caputo, rejected the allegations, saying the interactions between the public affairs office and CDC were part of a regular scientific review by scientific adviser Paul Alexander.
“Dr. Paul Alexander is an Oxford-educated epidemiologist and a methodologist specializing in analyzing the work of other scientists,” Mr. Caputo said. “Dr. Alexander advises me on pandemic policy and he has been encouraged to share his opinions with other scientists. Like all scientists, his advice is heard and taken or rejected by his peers. 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.”
Mr. Schumer was not convinced.
“Too many people within HHS are trying to suppress the science,” he said.
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