Trump is rolling back on the Traveling Snake Oil™ show from the White House briefing room podium, but this means he has more time for his second-favorite pastime, petty vengeance and scapegoating.
White House officials are weighing a plan to replace Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, according to four people familiar with the discussions.
Among the names on the short list to replace Azar are White House coronavirus coordinator Deborah Birx, Medicare chief Seema Verma and deputy HHS Secretary Eric Hargan, said the four people familiar with the talks.
Senior officials’ long-standing frustrations with the health chief have mounted during the pressure-packed response to the Covid-19 outbreak, with White House aides angry this week about Azar’s handling of the ouster of vaccine expert Rick Bright. At a recent task force meeting, Azar assured Vice President Mike Pence that Bright’s move to the National Institutes of Health was a promotion — only for Bright and his lawyers to release a statement that he would soon file a whistleblower complaint against HHS leadership, blindsiding White House officials, according to three officials familiar with the meeting.
White House officials also have blamed Azar for long-running turmoil at the health department and a series of media reports that portrayed him as urging Trump to act on the Covid-19 outbreak in January, only for the president and his aides to disregard Azar’s warnings as alarmist. Azar has denied the reports, saying that Trump “never once rejected, turned down or dismissed a recommendation” of his or the task force’s.
The White House disputed that officials were considering a plan to replace Azar.
I told you two months ago that Azar was going to be the scapegoat for Trump's failed COVID-19 response.
The Trump regime believes they have this election in the bag already, but they are publicly admitting the scenario where Trump gets crushed by any and every Democrat in November involves a big economic slump brought on by the Wuhan coronavirus. They're so scared of this happening that they already have their scapegoat trussed and ready for the chopping block: HHS Secretary Alex Azar.
Azar was always going to have his card pulled, but not until the time was right. After all, these Trump regime subgenii thought they were going to nail this "virus thing" out of the gate, and it was only a problem for them once it became clear that this time their incompetence was going to cost tens, if not hundreds of thousands of lives and trillions of dollars.
The funny thing is despite waiting two months to gank him, Azar's sacrifice probably won't even buy Trump a news cycle. Not with the daily butcher's bill coming in right now.
Also note that Dr. Fauci has been largely AWOL this week. That's not an accident.
Until this week, Dr. Anthony Fauci was a near-constant presence at the daily coronavirus task force briefings at the White House. As the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases for 35 years, his expertise on the global pandemic has been a reassuring force for millions of Americans concerned about how COVID-19 has uprooted their lives.
Of the roughly 50 press conferences on the health crisis so far, Fauci had only missed a handful. But now, for the first time since regular press conferences began on the topic, Fauci was only present for one of seven briefings this week.
While Fauci gave media interviews throughout the week, his absence at the podium was notable given the president’s controversial remarks a day earlier about using light and disinfectants to possibly treat the deadly respiratory illness.
And though Fauci regularly shares his decades-long infectious disease knowledge publicly, one administration official suggested there’s a preference that Fauci do more of that behind closed doors so it doesn’t appear he’s on such a different page from the president.
“You are here in a certain role, you’ve got to give advice privately,” this official said.
And finally, the Trump regime is declaring full-on war against the World Health Organization.
President Trump and his top aides are working behind the scenes to sideline the World Health Organization on several new fronts as they seek to shift blame for the coronavirus pandemic to the world body, according to U.S. and foreign officials involved in the discussions.
Last week, the president announced a 60-day hold on U.S. money to the WHO, but other steps by his top officials go beyond a temporary funding freeze, raising concerns about the permanent weakening of the organization amid a rapidly spreading crisis.
At the State Department, officials are stripping references to the WHO from coronavirus fact sheets, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has instructed his employees to “cut out the middle man” when it comes to public health initiatives the United States previously supported through the WHO.
The United States will now attempt to reroute the WHO funds to nongovernment organizations involved in public health issues, according to interviews with U.S. officials and an internal memo obtained by The Washington Post.
“The Secretary has asked the State Department and USAID to identify and utilize alternative implementers for foreign assistance programs beyond the WHO,” read a memo sent to State Department employees in recent days.
At the United Nations Security Council, the Trump administration has delayed a resolution responding to the health crisis, which the French have been trying to advance for weeks, because it disagrees with draft language that expresses support for the WHO, European officials said.
U.S. opposition to the WHO also prevented health ministers at a virtual G-20 meeting from issuing a joint statement on the pandemic earlier this month.
The White House is imploring allies to question the organization’s credibility and push claims that its employees routinely go on excessive “luxury travel,” as one White House official, Sarah Makin Acciani, told a group of surrogates in a recent phone call without offering evidence, a transcript of which has been obtained by The Post.
“It has been impossible to find a common ground with the U.S. about the views on the work and role of WHO,” said a senior European official, who like others spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe diplomatic discussions.
WHO officials initially hoped they could stave off a halt in U.S. funding and a messy public confrontation by making a symbolic concession to Trump, but discussions between the organization and the U.S. ambassador to the WHO, Andrew Bremberg, failed to ease tensions.
Azar's toast, Fauci is on his way out, and the WHO is being systematically dismantled.
Damn shame, that is. On several levels.