Ousted HHS Official ‘Frustrated’ By ‘Inability To Be Heard As Scientists’ In Trump Admin

(Screenshot: CBS News/YouTube)
|
May 9, 2020 12:18 p.m.

Dr. Rick Bright, a top public health official at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) who was removed this week after rejecting President Donald Trump’s unproven COVID-19 drug, spoke out against the Trump administration’s dismissiveness toward science amid the pandemic on Friday.

In Bright’s first interview since he filed a whistleblower complaint alleging retaliation after he was ousted from his position as director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), the official rejected Trump’s accusation that he was merely a “disgruntled” employee.

“I am not disgruntled,” Bright told CBS News reporter Norah O’Donnell. “I am frustrated at a lack of leadership. I am frustrated at a lack of urgency to get a head start on developing lifesaving tools for Americans. I’m frustrated at our inability to be heard as scientists. Those things frustrate me.”

The official, who has been demoted to a smaller position at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), slammed the administration’s decision to “decapitate” BARDA, which is currently conducting crucial research into COVID-19.

“Doesn’t make sense,” Bright said.

The health expert alleges in his complaint that the Trump administration removed him from his post for rejecting hydroxychloroquine, the anti-malarial drug that Trump has repeatedly touted as a cure for COVID-19 despite the lack evidence proving so.

Bright’s lawyers said on Friday that the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) has recommended the official be allowed to remain in his position as the agency investigates the matter after having found “sufficient evidence to believe” his transfer was retaliatory.

The HHS has denied that Bright was ousted out of retaliation.

“Dr. Bright was transferred to NIH to work on diagnostics testing – critical to combatting COVID-19 – where he has been entrusted to spend upwards of $1 billion to advance that effort,” department spokesperson Caitlin Oakley told TPM on Tuesday.

Watch the interview below:

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