Donald Trump on Sunday appeared to ask CBS owner Shari Redstone to fire 60 Minutes reporter Norah O’Donnell after her interview with the whistleblower who claims the president’s coronavirus response cost lives.
Dr. Rick Bright told a congressional hearing on Thursday that the United States could face ‘the darkest winter’ of recent times if it does not improve its response to the pandemic.
He told 60 Minutes: ‘I am frustrated at a lack of leadership. I am frustrated at a lack of urgency to get a head start on developing lifesaving tools for Americans. I’m frustrated at our inability to be heard as scientists.’
Trump took to Twitter shortly after the segment, with aired on Sunday, claiming the show is ‘doing everything in their power to demean our Country, much to the benefit of the Radical Left Democrats’.
The president went on to label Bright ‘a creep’ who ‘fabricates stories and spews lies’, writing: ‘I don’t know this guy, never met him, but don’t like what I see.
‘How can a creep like this show up to work tomorrow & report to @SecAzar, his boss, after trashing him on T.V.?’
Singling out host O’Donnell Trump also called her a ‘third place anchor’.
He added: ‘@60Minutes report was incorrect, which they couldn’t care less about. Fake News! I also hope that Shari Redstone will take a look at her poorly performing gang. She knows how to make things right!
‘This whole Whistleblower racket needs to be looked at very closely, it is causing great injustice & harm. I hope you are listening @SenSusanCollins.’
Dr. Rick Bright spoke to 60 Minutes reporter Norah O’Donnell for an interview on Sunday
Following the interview Donald Trump fired off a series of tweets appearing to ask CBS owner Shari Redstone, pictured, to fire 60 Minutes reporter Norah O’Donnell
The president hit out at the show last week, too. He wrote then: ‘@CBS and their show, @60Minutes, are doing everything within their power, which is far less today than it was in the past, to defend China and the horrible Virus pandemic that was inflicted on the USA and the rest of the World.
‘I guess they want to do business in China!’
Bright says he was removed from his government post for raising concerns about coronavirus preparedness.
He was removed last month as director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, or BARDA, a part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services responsible for developing drugs to fight the coronavirus.
‘What we do must be done carefully with guidance from the best scientific minds. Our window of opportunity is closing. If we fail to improve our response now, based on science, I fear the pandemic will get worse and be prolonged,’ Bright said during his testimony.
The pandemic has infected more than 1.5 million people in the United States, gutted the economy and killed more than 90,000 people.
Bright testified to the subcommittee on health that he would ‘never forget’ an e-mail he got in January from a U.S. supplier of medical-grade face masks warning of a dire shortage.
‘He said ‘we are in deep s***. The world is. We need to act,’ Bright said. ‘And I pushed that forward to the highest level that I could of HHS and got no response.’
Donald Trump on Sunday appeared to ask CBS owner Shari Redstone to fire 60 Minutes reporter Norah O’Donnell in a series of tweets Sunday evening
Trump, pictured, took to Twitter shortly after the segment, with aired on Sunday, claiming the show is ‘doing everything in their power to demean our Country, much to the benefit of the Radical Left Democrats’
Trump had already called Bright a ‘disgruntled employee’ on Twitter last Thursday.
In a whistleblower complaint filed with a government watchdog last week, Bright said that he warned about the virus in January and was met with hostility from HHS leaders.
Bright, who was reassigned to a new government job last month, said he was ousted from BARDA because he resisted efforts to push the drugs hydroxychloroquine and the related chloroquine as cures for COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus.
Bright said in the statement last month that the U.S. government has promoted the medicines as a ‘panacea’ even though they ‘clearly lack scientific merit.’
Bright, pictured, told 60 Minutes : ‘I am frustrated at a lack of leadership. I am frustrated at a lack of urgency to get a head start on developing lifesaving tools for Americans. I’m frustrated at our inability to be heard as scientists’
Singling out host O’Donnell, pictured, Trump also called her a ‘third place anchor’
HHS spokeswoman Caitlin Oakley has disputed Bright’s account, saying in a statement on Tuesday that he was transferred to a job where he was entrusted to spend around $1 billion to develop diagnostic testing.
‘We are deeply disappointed that he has not shown up to work on behalf of the American people and lead on this critical endeavor,’ Oakley said.
Bright testified that he has not started his new government job because he has hypertension and took a medical leave.
The House subcommittee was also hearing on Thursday from Mike Bowen, co-owner of Prestige Ameritech, the largest U.S. surgical mask producer.
It was Bowen who sent Bright an email in January warning that the United States would run out of medical-grade face masks if it did not ramp up production, according to documents included in Bright’s whistleblower complaint.
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany says HHS whistleblower who warned of ‘darkest winter’ ahead should ‘show up for the job he has’ despite battling stress and hypertension
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said the HHS whistleblower, Dr. Rick Bright, should ‘show up for the job he has,’ after he testifed to Congress that hypertension and stress have kept him out of work since his controversial demotion.
‘He takes a $285,000 salary – that’s extraordinary for a federal government salary – and he is still on taxpayer-funded medical leave so he can work with partisan attorneys who malign the president,’ McEnany said at Friday’s press briefing.
Bright had previously led the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, but on April 21 was moved to an undefined role at the National Institutes of Health.
Press secretary Kayleigh McEnany was asked if the administration wanted to see HHS whistleblower Dr. Rick Bright return to work at his new position at the National Institutes of Health. McEnany replied that he should ‘show up for the job he has’
An HHS press release at the time and McEnany on Friday characterized suggested that the transition was a standard job change.
‘He was transferred to lead a bold new $1 billion testing program,’ McEnany said Friday.
Her comments were almost verbatim to a release sent to reporters from the HHS press office Thursday.
‘Rick Bright was transferred from his role as BARDA director to lead a bold new $1 billion testing program at NIH, critical to saving lives and reopening America. Mr. Bright has not yet shown up for work, but continues to collect his $285,010 salary, while using his taxpayer-funded medical leave to work with partisan attorneys who are politicizing the response to COVID-19,’ the press release read.
His lawyers put out a statement Thursday explaining that ‘contrary to administration talking points, Dr. Bright has never refused to report to NIH, and now that his position there has been identified, he plans to being next week.’
‘Dr. Bright is fully prepared to step into this new role unless [Health and Human Services] Secretary Azar honors [the Office of Special Counsel’s] request and grants a stay of his reassignment,’ the statement read.
Bright hasn’t started at NIH, telling lawmakers that he was first out on medical leave and then took vacation time to testify before Congress.
‘I had a conversation with my physician about my hypertension and we’ve been managing it over the last three weeks because this has been very stressful to be removed suddenly without explanation for my role and my position. It’s a life change for me,’ Bright said.
Rep. Markwayne Mullin, an Oklahoma Republican, said he was ‘confused’ how Dr. Rick Bright could testify before Congress, but not show up to his new position at NIH. Bright testified that he’s been battling hypertension and stress since losing his job leading BARDA
Rep. Markwayne Mullin, an Oklahoma Republican, challenged Bright on how he could be out on sick leave, yet sit before Congress.
‘I guess I’m kind of confused here because you say you have hypertension but yet you were able to do these interviews, you were able to make the report and you were able to prepare for this hearing,’ Mullin said. ‘Yet you’re too sick to go into work, but you’re well enough to come here, while you’re still getting paid by the United States government.’
Bright answered, ‘Sir, I’ve been on medical leave.’
When Mullin asked him why his hypertension was acting up now and not when he was in charge of BARDA, Bright responded, ‘I didn’t have the level of stress of being removed from my position while I was at BARDA sir.
‘This has been very stressful,’ the doctor added.