Donald Trump and his administration installed two political operatives at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in order to control the messaging coming out about the novel coronavirus pandemic, the Associated Press reported.
According to the exposé, Nina Witkofsky was named as the acting chief of staff after she was sent to the department in June. She didn’t have a clear assignment or an office initially, and research into her past revealed she has no public health background.
Instead, her education is in finance and business administration, and she worked as a talent booker and publicist for the Cartoon Network. She was also an events director under the George W. Bush campaign in 2000.
Staffers in the office said they weren’t sure why she was put in place, initially.
Her deputy, Chester “Trey” Moeller, has a similar story.
“They just showed up on a Monday,” one official said.
Both are in charge of overseeing Robert Redfield, the director of the CDC, and the scientists who work for him, though both report to him.
Apparently, the pair were put in place to stop leaks that have been coming out of the department, upsetting the White House, and to put a positive spin on certain information, even if it contradicts scientific findings. The two report directly to Michael Caputo, the chief of communications for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
There have been rumors that Trump has installed operatives in various positions in the past, but the Associated Press describes this incident as particularly egregious. The pair’s lack of familiarity with how things worked at the department caused comment among existing employees.
Moeller worked on the Bush-Cheney campaign in 2004.
“Some CDC officials noted that a pandemic like this involves many parts of the government, and the political people sent to Atlanta have at times helped speed the flow of information coming to the agency from Washington,” AP wrote.
“But there has been a huge downside, public health experts and former CDC staffers say: damage to the once-venerated CDC.”
The House has created a subcommittee to investigate the allegations that the Trump administration has blocked the release of relevant scientific information, and the pair has become a subject of investigation.
Rick Bight, who filed a whistleblower campaign over the situation, expressed concern about Witkofsky and Moeller.
“I don’t trust the (political appointees) that they’ve dropped into the CDC,” he said.
The news comes weeks after a report that the White House has harmed morale at the CDC, as The Inquisitr previously reported.