April 27, 2020
During a coronavirus press briefing, Trump attacked a routine Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Inspector General (IG) report, sparking concern about Trump biasing future HHS reports that will document needs for coronavirus-related medical supplies.
The HHS review found that hospitals’ most significant challenges were severe shortages of testing supplies, extended waits for test results and widespread shortages of personal protective equipment. At the briefing on April 6, Trump claimed the report was “just wrong,” and attacked Principal Deputy HHS IG Christi A. Grimm, the author of the report, saying, “It still could be her opinion. When was she appointed? Do me a favor and let me know. Let me know now. I have to know.”
CREW has requested HHS communications on the report and the briefing. CREW has also requested any documents regarding any delay, cancellation, or modification of further OIG reports related to COVID-19.
HHS records will show any further steps Trump has taken to threaten IGs behind the scenes and how HHS has responded to these attacks, in light of his ongoing war on accountability. The attack came the same week Trump fired Michael Atkinson, who had served as the IG of the Intelligence Community since 2018, and disqualified then-Acting IG of the Department of Defense Glenn Fine from serving as chairman of the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee. At this time of great national peril, the public deserves to know whether IGs are continuing to conduct independent reporting and oversight, and whether the independence of their work is influenced by fear of retaliation. After all, without unbiased and independent oversight, hospital needs could go unreported and result in preventable deaths, a human cost that should be far too dire to even entertain, pandemic or not.
Read the request here.