“These attacks on our country’s public health institutions undermined the country’s response to the coronavirus,” he added.
Many of these press campaigns were reported by POLITICO and other outlets in early 2020, and President Donald Trump publicly appealed to the FDA and its commissioner on multiple occasions. But the commission’s report offers new color, via emails, texts and official testimony from Hahn about how persistent some of these efforts were at the White House during the summer and fall of 2020.
A significant portion of the report focuses on Peter Navarro, a former trade adviser to Trump who worked on the government’s response to the coronavirus. Navarro often collaborated with Steven Hatfill, an adjunct professor of virology at George Washington University who was one of Navarro’s advisors and worked on the federal response to the coronavirus.
Pushing for Hydroxychloroquine: According to emails collected in the course of the subcommittee’s investigation, Navarro and Hatfill have called on other White House officials to pressure Hahn to reinstate emergency use authorization for hydroxychloroquine after the agency announced it in June 2020. had withdrawn. At one point, Hatfill characterized the disagreement between White House officials and the FDA as an impending “knife battle” against an unnamed outside ally via email.
The report also found that Navarro instructed Hatfill to come up with a presentation to get the FDA to re-authorize the drug. At one point, Hatfill wrote to William O’Neill, a cardiologist at the Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, suggesting that a prophylactic study of the medication be conducted in a correctional facility where there was an outbreak of the coronavirus. (The report does not say how O’Neill responded to the request.)
Hatfill and Navarro tried to discredit other prominent health officials who spoke out against the use of hydroxychloroquine, including Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. The two discussed plans to have the Department of Justice and the Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services investigate Fauci and his email use. Hatfill has been pushing for Fauci’s removal all fall, according to the report, and told Navarro in September, “You really have to consider what will happen in the next 2 months if this little idiot and his Covid treatment panel aren’t fired.” Two weeks later, Hatfill wrote that “[t]a house will be cleaned here after the elections. [A] really good cleaning.”
Political pressure: In several cases, the subcommittee said it has found evidence of senior Trump officials planning to take actions that could benefit the administration politically.
Officials tried to pressure the FDA to allow restorative plasma around the time of the Republican National Convention, emails reveal. The proposed investigation into Fauci would take place around the time of the 2020 presidential election in an effort to persuade voters in favor of Trump, the report said.
The Trump administration also tried to pressure the FDA to approve the first Covid-19 vaccines before the presidential election. When Hahn testified before the subcommittee in January 2022, he said White House officials said they would not agree to emergency authorization language that requires a 60-day security clearance for late-stage clinical trials. Ultimately, the FDA went ahead with the 60-day follow-up plan without an explicit White House blessing, although the White House later approved it.
And their emails: The report also found evidence that Navarro and Hatfill had used a private email server for federal communications. The Ministry of Justice has sued Navarro made sure to hand over other emails sent from his personal email account related to presidential affairs, first revealed by a separate subcommittee report.
Neither Navarro nor Hatfill were available for comment.
This is the second report in a series of investigations into how Trump administration officials have managed the coronavirus. The first found that the government relied heavily on the herd immunity theory surrounding the spread of the virus to delay federal action. The commission is investigating other aspects of the federal response to the pandemic.