WASHINGTON – White House officials prioritized former President Donald Trump’s attempt to challenge last winter’s elections over the response to last winter’s pandemic, according to emails sent by the House Subcommittee on Coronavirus Response Investigation received by the government and reported to the Washington Post.
Steven Hatfill, a virologist who advised White House Commercial Director Peter Navarro and said he was closely involved in responding to the pandemic, repeatedly described in the emails how “elective matters” took precedence over the coronavirus itself as the outbreak rose to more than 250,000 new coronavirus cases per day in January.
“Now that the elections are so close, COVID is taking a back seat, but the disease breeds it.”[s] ugly head again ”, wrote Hatfill in October 2020 to an external colleague. After the election, which was challenged by former President Donald Trump, Hatfill wrote in another email that he personally “went into investigating election fraud in November”.
In other emails the subcommittee received, Hatfill described his role in White House electoral challenges, including traveling to Arizona following the tight elections in that state, sharing a “Plan B for Trump Legal Fight,” and sharing exposed Rumors of Joe Biden’s alleged family ties with a voting machine company.
In an email dated January 5, 2021, asked by a colleague at George Washington University why he wasn’t “fixing the virus,” Hatfill blamed the election battle, writing, “Because the election matter got out of hand. I go where my team is going, ”he quoted his own efforts to question the election result in Nevada.
The emails received from the subcommittee also show that Hatfill interacts directly with senior officials in the White House, the Department of Health and the Food and Drug Administration and represents the administration in dealing with outside health companies.
“The President was grossly wrongly advised by the COVID Task Force on the correct pandemic response to COVID-19,” wrote Hatfill in a letter dated September 22, 2020 to then Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. Hatfill listed a number of alternative recommendations, including proactive administration of untested viral treatments such as hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malarial drug preferred by Trump.
The Democrat-led panel issued a subpoena Thursday to Hatfill demanding that he hand over documents the subcommittee first requested in April and reprimanding him for minimizing his role in the White House response.
“DR. Hatfill has refused to provide documents and misleadingly downplayed his involvement in the pandemic response in communications with staff on the selected subcommittee,” Subcommittee Chairman James Clyburn wrote of the DS.C Washington Post .
Clyburn also criticized the Trump administration’s decision to classify Hatfill as an unpaid volunteer, saying it raised “serious questions” about whether the government had tried to circumvent transparency and ethics rules.
In a statement, Hatfill defended his involvement in the election challenges, saying it was due to his dissatisfaction with how federal officials were handling the response to the pandemic.
“From my perspective as a doctor, I have been and still am frustrated that public health is being treated as political football,” Hatfill wrote in response to questions from The Post. “I was also disgusted by the destruction of the National Pandemic Plan by contradicting petty bureaucrats; a plan that focused on early treatment and outreach rather than experimental vaccines and panic, “added Hatfill, an indication of his belief that officials have falsely restricted access to hydroxychloroquine.
“I have been asked to serve in the executive office of the President of the United States at a time of extreme crisis. I accepted this call without reservation and would do so again regardless of the political affiliation of the executive, ”added Hatfill.
Navarro and a Trump spokeswoman did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Attempts to reach Meadows were unsuccessful.
According to himself, Hatfill played a key role in the Trump administration’s response to the pandemic.
“From February 3, 2020 through the post-inauguration transition period in 2021, it was my job to submit external scientific reflections to the Executive Office of the President of the United States on an almost daily basis. The task took thousands of hours of unpaid labor, ”wrote Hatfill in an article posted on his website earlier this year.
In emails to colleagues – sometimes sent through ProtonMail, an encrypted email service used by Hatfill, Navarro, and other Trump officials in messages from Democrats – the virologist explained his duties, including the fact that he worked up to 18 hours a day, stationed in the White House.
Before the outbreak exploded in the United States, Hatfill issued predictive warnings in February 2020 that the government’s “critical mistakes” – such as a failed introduction of coronavirus tests developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – would fail the early response to the virus. He also repeatedly urged Navarro, a close adviser to Trump, to quickly obtain tests and supplies, and he helped write memos that reached the president.
But the documents also illustrate how politics came to shape Hatfill’s view of the pandemic.
“States favorable to Trump have lower COVID death rates,” Hatfill wrote in an email to a White House official on Sept. 19, 2020, suggesting that the information should be highlighted.
As the demand for face coverings increased, Hatfill also turned down opportunities to purchase N95 or KN95 masks that were available overseas. “Nothing that is not based in the US,” wrote Hatfill in an email on March 27, 2020.
In his emails, Hatfill repeatedly targeted Anthony Fauci, the government’s foremost infectious disease expert, and then-FDA Commissioner Steven Hahn, whom he blamed for combating widespread use of anti-malarial drugs.
“I actually lost it and told Fauci a few weeks ago that it was full of crap,” wrote Hatfill in an email dated September 3, 2020.
“Two members of the COVID-19 Task Force (Drs, Fauci and Hahn) urgently need to be replaced by a competent multidisciplinary team of doctors and public health experts with actual experience in surgical medicine,” demanded Hatfill Meadows about two weeks later a letter. Neither man was removed from the task force, but both were increasingly sidelined by Trump.
Fauci said he was unaware of Hatfill’s efforts to replace him on the task force. Hahn did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Hatfill, a virologist and former Army bio-defense researcher, first attracted national interest after then-Attorney General John Ashcroft referred to him as a “person of interest” in the 2001 anthrax attacks. Hatfill was subsequently acquitted of any wrongdoing and received a $ 5.85 million settlement from the Justice Department in 2008.
Listed as an adjunct assistant professor in the medical school at George Washington University, the scientist sometimes marveled at his turn of luck, including his newfound closeness to Trump.
“‘Person of interest’ to the WH advisor in 20 years,” wrote Hatfill in an email exchange in February 2020, adding that he “helped draft a memo for Big D last night.” “Only in America LOL.”