President Donald Trump is coming under fire for a claim that he had never "even heard of" a whistleblower who is criticizing the administration's coronavirus response -- even though the man who blew the whistle is one of the nation's top biomedical research experts.
Trump took to Twitter on Thursday to blast Rick Bright, the former director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, the government agency working on a vaccine for the virus. Trump claimed in one tweet that he never met or even heard of Bright, a statement that has come under fire since Bright was one of the top experts within the administration responding to the coronavirus.
"I don't know the so-called Whistleblower Rick Bright, never met him or even heard of him, but to me he is a disgruntled employee, not liked or respected by people I spoke to and who, with his attitude, should no longer be working for our government!" Trump tweeted.
That came under criticism from Congressman Joe Kennedy, who hinted that the claim reflects rather poorly on Trump.
"Maybe the fact that you didn't know or even hear of the person in charge of biomedical research for your Administration in the midst of a global health pandemic is part of the reason why we're quickly approaching 100,000 deaths in this country," the Massachusetts congressman tweeted.
Kennedy's tweet echoed one of the major criticisms of Trump since the coronavirus outbreak, with many saying he failed to heed the warnings of the medical experts within his administration. Trump has at times contradicted them during daily coronavirus press briefings, offering medical advice and predictions that have later been corrected by other members of the coronavirus task force.Trump's attack came as Bright spoke before a House subcommittee on health, saying that lives were unnecessarily lost due to inaction on the part of the Trump administration in the critical early weeks of the outbreak. He also issued a stark warning about the nation potentially facing "the darkest winter in modern history" if a second wave of the coronavirus hits in late fall as many public health experts have predicted. Bright said the administration still lacks a proper plan for responding to the outbreak including ways to procure sufficient masks, treatments, and vaccines.
Bright had claimed that he was ousted from his position after voicing concerns about a potential coronavirus treatment being touted by Trump -- a claim the president has denied.