Internal government emails obtained by The Associated Press on Friday reveal that the decision to shelve detailed advice from the nation’s top disease control experts for reopening communities during the coronavirus pandemic “came from the highest levels of the White House.”
“The files also show that after the AP reported Thursday that the guidance document had been buried, the Trump administration ordered key parts of it to be fast-tracked for approval,” the AP reports. “The trove of emails show the nation’s top public health experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention spending weeks working on guidance to help the country deal with a public health emergency, only to see their work quashed by political appointees with little explanation.”
The document, titled “Guidance for Implementing the Opening Up America Again Framework,” was researched and written to help guide faith leaders, business owners, educators and state and local officials as they begin to reopen.
The guidance includes detailed “decision trees” aimed at helping local leaders navigate the difficult decision of whether to reopen or remain closed.
White House spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany confirmed Friday that the documents had not been approved by CDC Director Robert Redfield.
“The new emails, however, show that Redfield cleared the guidance,” reports the AP.
MSNBC’s Chris Hayes ripped into McEnany for breaking her promise days earlier to never tell a lie.
Remember when @PressSec said she wouldn't lie?
"White House spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany said Friday that the documents had not been approved by CDC Director Robert Redfield. The new emails, however, show that Redfield cleared the guidance."https://t.co/AKZd9sgmfT
— Chris Hayes (@chrislhayes) May 8, 2020
“I will never lie to you. You have my word on that,” McEnany said a week earlier when asked by a reporter if she would pledge to never lie to the White House press corps from the podium.
The AP adds:
This new CDC guidance — a mix of advice already released along with newer information — had been approved and promoted by the highest levels of its leadership, including Redfield. Despite this, the administration shelved it on April 30.
As early as April 10, Redfield, who is also a member of the White House coronavirus task force, shared via email the guidance and decision trees with President Donald Trump’s inner circle, including his son-in-law Jared Kushner, top adviser Kellyanne Conway and Joseph Grogan, assistant to the president for domestic policy. Also included were Dr. Deborah Birx, Dr. Anthony Fauci and other task force members.
Three days later, CDC’s upper management sent the more than 60-page report with attached flow charts to the White House Office of Management and Budget, a step usually taken only when agencies are seeking final White House approval for documents they have already cleared.