WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Kamala D. Harris (D-CA) on June 23, sent a letter to Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Peter Gaynor, Rear Admiral John Polowczyk, and Admiral Brett Giroir demanding answers on potential political interference in COVID-19 testing efforts after the President claimed he told “his people” to “slow the testing down, please.” Earlier this month, Harris questioned Gaynor, Polowczyk, and Giroir about the White House’s political involvement with the distribution of resources in the federal response to COVID-19. Gaynor, Polowczyk, and Giroir all said the White House was not involved.
“In the federal response to COVID-19, directing or redirecting resources covers everything from personal protective equipment (PPE) and funding to testing capacity and infrastructure and federal personnel. It is critical, especially during a national crisis that decisions impacting the lives and livelihoods of all Americans be devoid of political interference, and even perceived political interference,” Harris wrote.
Harris continued, “The President stated that he directed a decrease in testing because more testing would result in more confirmed cases, implying that the reality of the COVID-19 pandemic harms him politically. While White House officials have since claimed the President was joking, the example provided by Rep. Kim indicates White House involvement in rejecting additional testing sites. Further, when pressed on June 22, whether he directed a slowdown of testing, the President did not directly answer the question.”
“So I am asking you again, as leaders of the federal response to the COVID-19 pandemic, has the President or anyone at the White House directed, suggested, or implied that you direct or redirect resources for political reasons, including by withholding funding or limiting the nation’s testing? And to address any ambiguity, has the President, or anyone at the White House directed, suggested, or implied that you take any actions related to COVID-19 in an effort to protect the President or his administration?” Harris concluded.
Details:A copy of Sen. Harris’ letter https://www.harris.senate.gov/imo/media/doc