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CDC Director Contradicts Trump to His Face

4 min read

Yesterday, Dr.  Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), warned in a Washington Post interview that we need to prepare for a second coronavirus wave this winter: CDC director warns second wave of coronavirus is likely to be even more devastating. This was out of step with Trump’s Magical Mystery Tour, so IMPOTUS said Redfield had been misquoted (though he blamed CNN, which basically just reported the WaPo story):

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Redfield did not put out any statement. However, the White House press office did issue one, making it appear that Redfield had said something different:

Why the CDC director wasn't misquoted on coronavirus — no matter what the White House says

More than five hours after Trump sent that initial tweet, Redfield hadn't issued the promised “statement.” Know who did? Newly installed White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, who told reporters this on Wednesday afternoon:
“The CDC director, I spoke with him just before coming out here. He was very clear in saying look, we might have flu reemerge in the fall. All Americans need to go out and get their flu shots, that was the thrust of his comments, but you know, leave it to the media to really take those out of context.”

Of course, that was only part of what Redfield had really told WaPo:

“There's a possibility that the assault of the virus on our nation next winter will actually be even more difficult than the one we just went through. And when I've said this to others, they kind of put their head back, they don't understand what I mean. We're going to have the flu epidemic and the coronavirus epidemic at the same time.”

Then, at today’s ego feeding, Trump invited Redfield to speak up. This was a mistake.

Trump said his CDC director was ‘misquoted.’ Then his CDC director said he was ‘accurately quoted.’

[W]hile Redfield emphasized — as he did in the Post interview — that he was talking about the flu and the coronavirus combined, he actually affirmed his quote, contradicting Trump.
“I’m accurately quoted in The Washington Post,” Redfield said.

The author of this WaPo column, Aaron Blake, points out that this is far more dangerous than just another example of Trump’s hating to be shown he’s wrong:

All of that aside, what’s apparent from all this is that Trump is again bristling at a health official offering too dire a scenario. And that matters.

Back in late February, Blake reminds us, health officials were preparing to brief Trump on the seriousness of the pandemic when he returned from India. But then Dr. Messonier gave a warning that the virus was inevitable and  going to cause serious disruption. This cause the stock market to drop Trump’s gorge to rise in approximately inverse relation. As a result, it was 3 weeks — 3 valuable lost weeks — before they could persuade Trump to take the virus more seriously.

Now, once again, reality, this time in the form of the CDC director (appointed by Trump in 2018 despite heavy criticism), who evidently decided that it was more important to be loyal to science than loyal to Trump and not only told the truth, but repeated it to Trump’s face in front of press, after getting clear signals that he was not to do that.

Aaron Blake, again:

And as much as anything, it reinforces that Trump’s posture toward the virus hasn’t just been about optimism, but instead about a resistance to the reality that his own health officials have tried to convey. Given everything that’s transpired over the past three months — and the many warnings we’ve discovered that apparently weren’t heeded — it’s difficult to dismiss that as some kind of triviality. [emphasis added]

Trump wants the economy opened ASAP because he thinks it will help his chances of re-election. He had planned to take credit if the country stayed healthy, and blame the governors if the virus flared up again. Redfield just threw a big monkey wrench into Trump’s scheme by making it impossible for Trump to claim he wasn’t warned. (Well, he’ll try to claim it anyway, but Lordy, we have the tapes.)

Let’s just hope there are still enough Americans alive in November to vote him out of office.

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