WASHINGTON — Members of the White House coronavirus task force during the Trump administration expressed concerns with each other about sharing “misinformation” with the president, according to emails obtained by a congressional subcommittee and shared with NBC News.
Among the emails to be announced at a congressional hearing Thursday morning is one from Deborah Birx, who served as the Covid response coordinator under former President Donald Trump. Birx has expressed concerns to Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Anthony Fauci, and other staff members about Scott Atlas, a radiologist who joined the White House in August 2020 as a special counsel.
Atlas rejected the prevailing mitigation measures, such as mask-wearing, social distancing and widespread testing, in favor of establishing herd immunity as a way to protect the population from the pandemic.
Before citing Atlas’ views, Birx wrote, “a very serious meeting at OVAL yesterday,” which included that “case identification is bad for reelection — testing should be limited to patients only.”
Birx is scheduled to testify before the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis at 10 a.m. ET Thursday. This will be her first public testimony about her time in the Trump White House.
In another August 2020 email, Birx referred to Atlas’ positions as “parallel ideas” and “disinformation.”
“I’m at a loss as to what to do,” Birx wrote to Fauci, Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Seema Verma, who used to head the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. “We need to stop this infection otherwise there will be 300,000 dead by December.”
Birx also told the subcommittee that she had been pressured to make changes to some of the weekly data reports it sent to state and local officials, including recommendations regarding concealment and internal capacity restrictions, leading it to make those recommendations less clear to White House officials. Subcommittee said reports.
“So I learned to put things that were problematic in the second part of the sentence,” the subcommittee said, noting recommendations that would raise objections from the Trump White House.
The subcommittee will release the emails along with the full transcripts from Birx’s closed-door interview with the committee in October.