The Trump regime has decided that the sacrificial lambs for the regime's now completely failed response to the nation's COVID-19 epidemic will be the sacrificial lab coats that the regime refused to listen to in the first place.
White House officials are putting a target on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, positioning the agency as a coronavirus scapegoat as cases surge in many states and the U.S. falls behind other nations that are taming the pandemic.
Trump administration aides in recent weeks have seriously discussed launching an in-depth evaluation of the agency to chart what they view as its missteps in responding to the pandemic including an early failure to deploy working test kits, according to four senior administration officials. Part of that audit would include examining more closely the state-by-state death toll to tally only the Americans who died directly of Covid-19 rather than other factors. About 120,000 people in the U.S. have died of the coronavirus so far, according to the CDC’s official count.
Aides have also discussed narrowing the mission of the agency or trying to embed more political appointees within it, according to interviews with 10 current and former senior administration officials and Republicans close to the White House. One official said the overall goal would be to make the CDC nimble and more responsive.
Politically, Trump aides have also been looking for a person or entity outside of China to blame for the coronavirus response and have grown furious with the CDC, its public health guidance and its actions on testing, making it a prime target. But some wonder whether the wonky-sounding CDC, which the administration directly oversees, could be an effective fall guy on top of Trump’s efforts to blame the World Health Organization.
“WHO is an easy one,” said one former administration official. “It is foreign body in Switzerland. CDC will be tough to create a bogeyman around for the average voter.”
The moves are among the White House’s efforts to deflect attacks on President Donald Trump and place them elsewhere in the federal bureaucracy. Protecting the president is seen as increasingly important by political aides as the general election approaches in just over four months and criticism mounts from former Vice President Joe Biden, other Democrats and even former national security adviser John Bolton who say the blame rests squarely on Trump himself.
The efforts risk backfiring if they blame career health experts at the CDC whose warnings early in the crisis were dismissed by Trump and his top aides as fearmongering.
Juliette Kayyem, a former Obama-era Homeland Security official who aided the 2009 H1N1 pandemic response, said it can be valuable for agencies to revisit their performance following a crisis — but that there’s no reason to single out the CDC.
“When the history books are written about this crisis, is anyone actually going to believe that America’s abysmal performance and its high death rate was because of some bureaucratic impediment at the CDC?" Kayyem said. “The core of America's problem is a White House that clearly was not pressed into action in January. And every flaw — from CDC and testing to FEMA and the stockpiles to the supply chain and the states — every systemic problem is rooted in White House malfeasance."
The discussion is ongoing about the best way to revamp an agency White House aides view as distant from the West Wing — and filled with government career officials who do not respect or follow the Trump agenda.
It's a trifecta for the regime: they get a scapegoat, they clear out the experts and civil servants from yet another federal agency and replace everyone with yes men, and they can then cast doubt on the CDC's virus statistics and say the numbers of deaths and cases are wrong and that really everything's fine (and future numbers would be guaranteed to be "fine".)
I'm honestly surprised the CDC hasn't been wiped clean to begin with. I guess with Senate Republicans facing the very real possibility of losing control of the chamber in January, suddenly stopping Trump from putting people in the CDC who will make tens of thousands of COVID-19 deaths go away seems like a bad idea.
Oh, and Trump's declaration at his Tulsa rally over the weekend that he wanted COVID-19 testing slowed down in order to "stop the numbers from going up" wasn't a joke, like the White House is trying to pass off. It's real, as the regime is ending federal testing in Texas and 12 other states this month.
The Trump administration is ending funding and support for local COVID-19 testing sites around the country this month, as cases and hospitalizations are skyrocketing in many states.
The federal government will stop providing money and support for 13 sites across five states which were originally set up in the first months of the pandemic to speed up testing at the local level.
Local officials and public health experts expressed a mixture of frustration, resignation, and horror at the decision to let federal support lapse.
Texas will be particularly hard hit by the decision. The federal government gives much-needed testing kits and laboratory access to seven testing sites around Texas. But in the state, which is seeing new peaks in cases, people still face long lines for testing that continues to fail to meet overwhelming demand.
In Dallas County, Texas, the federal government will end support on June 30 for two testing sites it has been been supporting since March, Rocky Vaz, the director of emergency management for the city of Dallas, confirmed to TPM.
“Cases are continuing to rise in Dallas County, and we want to continue with the testing,” Vaz said.
The city of Dallas asked the federal government for an extension beyond June 30, but was refused, Vaz said.
“They told us very clearly that they are not going to extend it,” Vaz said. “We are not expecting it to continue beyond June 30, but things change.”
And on the circus goes.