House Democrats on Monday asked the Biden administration to hand over long-sought documents from the Trump administration regarding its response to the coronavirus pandemic, renewing an investigation into what role alleged political interference by former officials may have played in the virus’ threat.
In letters obtained by CNN to White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain and acting head of Health and Human Services Norris Cochran, House Majority Whip James Clyburn alleges the Trump administration “refused to cooperate” with inquiries from the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis; that HHS blocked documents and witnesses related to the response to the virus; and that Trump officials “failed to fully comply with two subpoenas and at least 20 document requests” by the committee.
Arguing that the committee needs the documents to continue its investigation, the South Carolina Democratic congressman also alleged that new documents obtained by the committee show the Trump administration took “efforts to suppress science during the pandemic.” The documents include an email by former HHS senior adviser Paul Alexander where the committee alleges he “pressured Food and Drug Administration officials to quickly approve emergency use of convalescent plasma and advised them to disregard concerns” from Dr. Anthony Fauci and National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins.
The request is the latest example of House Democrats continuing to pursue investigations against former President Donald Trump and his officials after he has left office and comes a day before the Senate impeachment trial against Trump.
Clyburn requested both Biden administration officials submit documents from January 1, 2020, to Inauguration Day to the committee by March 1 on “all organizational charts and staff lists” related to the White House’s coronavirus pandemic response, documents regarding “public health guidance, plans, or proposals” about the pandemic and weekly reports from the White House Coronavirus Task Force.
CNN has reached out to the White House, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, HHS and FDA for comment Monday.
He also requested documents related to coronavirus testing, the number of coronavirus hospitalizations and infections in the US, coronavirus data collections, herd immunity strategy, coronavirus vaccines and treatments, efforts by political appointees or White House personnel “to review, revise, edit, delay, or prohibit publication of any Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report or other CDC reports” about the virus, “any adverse employment action taken or considered” against employees, officials or federal contractors related to the pandemic.
In December, the committee subpoenaed then-HHS Secretary Alex Azar and then-CDC Director Robert Redfield for documents related to their investigation into alleged political interference. They warned the Trump administration officials that they had until December 30 to produce all the emails and communications related to the publication of a series of scientific reports. The committee first requested the documents in September, and Democrats said then they hit a roadblock with HHS and CDC in getting the documents and interviews needed complete their work.
CNN’s Jacqueline Howard, Lauren Fox and Manu Raju contributed to this report.