President Donald Trump blasted former Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) chief Rick Bright on Sunday after a segment featuring the whistleblower aired on CBS’s “60 Minutes.” Trump said that there was not a whiff of truth to the segment or to Bright’s claims, which accuse the Health and Human Services Department of delaying the necessary actions to prepare for the coronavirus pandemic in January.
Bright said in the segment that he was among the only public health officials calling for test and drug production in the early days of the Wuhan outbreak, and he now claims that he was shoved aside and ultimately demoted because the Trump administration didn’t like the tune he was singing. Bright said he stood up during a January 23rd meeting and said, “We’re going to need vaccines and diagnostics and drugs. It’s going to take a while and we need to get started.”
Bright said that his colleagues and bosses didn’t want to hear it. He said, however, that it was not until he began to push back on President Trump’s embrace of the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine that he lost his job.
“I believe my last-ditch effort to protect Americans from that drug was the final straw that they used and believed was essential to push me out,” he said.
Bright told CBS’s Norah O’Donnell that the Trump administration is still not prepared for dealing with the coronavirus.
“We don’t yet have a national strategy to respond fully to this pandemic,” he said. “The best scientists that we have in our government who are working really hard to try to figure this out aren’t getting that clear, cohesive leadership, strategic plan message yet. Until they get that, it’s still gonna be chaotic.”
President Trump ripped into Bright and CBS, insisting that the “whole whistleblower racket” is “causing great injustice & harm” throughout the federal government.
“60 Minutes & third place anchor, @NorahODonnell are doing everything in their power to demean our Country, much to the benefit of the Radical Left Democrats. Tonight they put on yet another Fake ‘Whistleblower’, a disgruntled employee who supports Dems, fabricates stories, & spews lies,” the president tweeted. “@60Minutes report was incorrect, which they couldn’t care less about. Fake News! 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.”
Well, it’s not clear that he will. Bright was reassigned from BARDA to a position at the National Institutes of Health last month, but he has yet to report for duty. Perhaps he’s hoping that he can turn his big “expose” into a bestselling book and leave government work behind forever.
Sounds like a guy who really cares about the administration’s approach to the pandemic.