Democrats on the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis released a report Wednesday alleging the Trump administration pressured health officials to approve unproven COVID-19 treatments and rush authorization of vaccines.
The report alleges former President Donald Trump and his top advisers pushed former Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Stephen Hahn to grant emergency use authorization (EUA) to unproven treatments like hydroxychloroquine and convalescent plasma. Hahn alleged that top Trump officials pushed the FDA to rush authorization of the first vaccine so it would be available before the 2020 presidential election.
Documents obtained by @COVIDOversight reveal TV personality Dr. Mehmet Oz pushed Trump WH officials—including Dr. Deborah Birx & Jared Kushner— to generate support for hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) early in the pandemic. pic.twitter.com/DpaW6qqemc
— Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis (@COVIDOversight) August 24, 2022
In a transcribed interview with the committee, Hahn claimed that Trump White House official Peter Navarro personally pressured him to re-authorize hydroxychloroquine for emergency use, despite insufficient data supporting its efficacy. Documents reveal that Navarro and an associate, Dr. Steven Hatfill, petitioned Vice President Mike Pence and Trump themselves to seek re-authorization.
Emails obtained by the committee show that Hatfill and Navarro used private email accounts while working for the White House to encourage outside political pundits and organizations to pressure the FDA to re-authorize hydroxychloroquine. The Department of Justice (DOJ) previously filed a lawsuit against Navarro for allegedly violating the Presidential Records Act by using a private email account to conduct official business.
Hatfill took things a step further, hatching a plan he presented to Navarro for soliciting a DOJ investigation into Hahn, NIAID Director Dr. Anthony Fauci and other top health officials. Hahn urged Republican Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson to push for a “combined HHS-IG and DOJ investigation into the entire HCQ matter,” documents revealed.
The White House also objected to FDA guidance that coronavirus vaccines would require 60 days of surveillance data before authorization, according to Hahn. The FDA feared waiving the 60-day surveillance period would further reduce public confidence in the vaccines, and defied White House pressure to authorize the vaccines on an accelerated timeline before the 2020 presidential election, the committee found.
Neither Navarro nor the Trump-era Health and Human Services Secretary, who is named in the report, have publicly addressed the committee’s findings. (RELATED: CNN Medical Analyst Dr. Leana Wen Admits Masking Stunted Her Toddler’s Social Development)
“The Select Subcommittee’s findings that Trump White House officials deliberately and repeatedly sought to bend FDA’s scientific work on coronavirus treatments and vaccines to the White House’s political will are yet another example of how the prior Administration prioritized politics over public health,” chairman James Clyburn said in a statement about the report. “As today’s report makes clear, senior Trump Administration officials undermined public health experts because they believed doing so would benefit the former president politically—plotting covertly with known conspiracy theorists to dangerously push a disproven coronavirus treatment, bullying FDA to change its vaccine guidance, and advocating for federal investigations into those who stood in their way.”
Numerous members of the Trump White House and its allies promoted treatments like hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin, which have not been proven to be effective in treating COVID-19. The Trump administration did invest heavily in Operation Warp Speed, which fast-tracked COVID-19 vaccine development and led to the authorization of life-saving vaccines on a historically fast timeline.