A scientist working for the Trump administration repeatedly complained in emails that “election stuff” was taking dangerous precedence over developing an effective response to the deadly COVID-19 crisis, The Washington Post reported.
Donald Trump’s focus on the election persisted, according to the emails, even as COVID-19 cases in the U.S. soared to some 250,000 a day in January, the Post noted.
Emails by Steven Hatfill, a virologist who advised White House trade director Peter Navarro, were obtained by the House select committee investigating the White House response to the COVID-19 crisis.
“Now with the elections so close, COVID is taking a back-seat, yet the disease is rearing it[s] ugly head again,” Hatfill wrote to a colleague outside the White House in October 2020 in an email seen by the Post.
After the election, which was challenged by Trump, Hatfill revealed in another email that he personally “shifted over to the election fraud investigation in November.”
Instead of focusing on the pandemic, Hatfill traveled to Arizona after the close presidential vote there. He also reportedly emailed information to White House officials concerning a Dominion Voting Systems conspiracy theory, and forwarded Navarro an email regarding a “Plan B for Trump Legal Fight” intended “For Rudy,” possibly referring to Trump’s former personal attorney Rudy Giuliani.
“The election thing got out of control. I go where my team goes,” Hatfill told another colleague in an email, referring to more work challenging the outcome of the presidential election in Nevada, the Post reported.
James Clyburn, chairman of the COVID-19 House Select Subcommittee, wrote in a Sept. 23 memorandum that “throughout the months of November and December 2020, the pandemic continued to worsen in the United States — with more than 11 million new cases and 132,770 deaths in those two months alone.” Nearly 200,000 Americans lost their lives to COVID between Election Day and Inauguration Day, Clyburn added.
Hatfill defended his election work to the Post. He said in response to questions from the newspaper: “I was, and continue to be, frustrated with public health being treated as a political football. Moreover, I was disgusted with the destruction of the National Pandemic Plan at the hands of conflicted petty bureaucrats.”
Hatfill accurately predicted in February 2020 that problems with tests provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would seriously hamstring early efforts to bring COVID under control, according to the Post.
The former Army bio-defense researcher was named as a person of interest by then-Attorney General John Ashcroft in the anthrax attacks of 2001 when the poison was sent in the mail. He was cleared of any wrongdoing and won a $5.85 million settlement from the Justice Department in 2008.
“‘Person of Interest’ to WH advisor in 20-years,” Hatfill wrote in a February 2020 email exchange, the Post reported, adding that he “helped draft a memo for big D last night.”
“Only in America LOL,” he added.
Read the entire Washington Post story here.