Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

CDC Director Robert Redfield (L) with President Donald Trump during a daily coronavirus briefing on April 22, 2020 at the White House in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images)

President Donald Trump and CDC Director Robert Redfield participate in the daily briefing on the novel coronavirus in the Brady Briefing Room of the White House on April 22, 2020 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images)

CDC Official Says She Was Told to Delete Email on Kids' Covid-19 Risk to Match Trump's School Reopening Message

"Federal employees have affirmative obligations to preserve documents, and destruction of federal records is potentially illegal," warned Rep. James Clyburn. 

Brett Wilkins

The director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention allegedly ordered agency staff to delete an email sent by a political appointee of President Donald Trump seeking to alter a scientific report on corovanirus health risks in children, a CDC official told Congress this week. 

The Hill reports Charlotte Kent, the CDC official responsible for the agency's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports (MMWRs), told the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis in a transcribed interview on Monday that she was instructed to delete an email regarding Covid-19 risk to young people. 

The August 8, 2020 email (pdf) was sent by Paul Alexander, the former science adviser to Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) assistant secretary for public affairs Michael Caputo. According to Kent, it concerned an effort to interfere in a CDC report on Covid-19 risks to children and teens during the period when President Donald Trump was pushing school districts across the nation to reopen. 

"I was instructed to delete the email," Kent said, adding that she found the directive "very unusual." Kent added she was told the order to destroy the evidence came from CDC Director Robert Redfield, although she said she did not speak directly with him about the matter.

When Kent went to delete the email, she found it was already gone; although she said she did not know who deleted it. 

In a Thursday letter to Redfield and his boss, HHS Secretary Alex Azar, Rep. James Clyburn, (D-S.C.), the subcommittee chair, voiced his "serious concern about what may be deliberate efforts by the Trump administration to conceal and destroy evidence that senior political appointees interfered with career officials' response to the coronavirus crisis at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention."

"Federal employees have affirmative obligations to preserve documents, and destruction of federal records is potentially illegal," Clyburn warned. "Federal law also provides for up to three years of imprisonment for willful destruction of federal records."

Kent also told the subcommittee that the CDC postponed the release of a report on a Covid-19 outbreak at a summer camp in Georgia until after Redfield appeared before Congress on July 31 to promote the administration's desired school reopenings. 

Alexander, who no longer works at HHS, joined the agency in late March and took a leading role in controlling its coronavirus messaging to reflect Trump's downplaying of the pandemic threats. In September, he tried to prevent Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease expert, from publicly speaking about the risk of the virus to children.

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

Please select a donation method:

Ilhan Omar Demands Answers After First Somalia Airstrike of Biden Era

"It is critical that we realize we are not going to simply drone the al-Shabaab problem to death," the Somali-American congresswoman asserted.

Brett Wilkins ·

'Huge Legal Win': Court Stops Police From Blockading Line 3 Protester Camp

One attorney described the blockade as "an outrageous abuse of law enforcement authority serving the interests of the Enbridge corporation against its environmental opponents."

Kenny Stancil ·

Shifting from Fossil Fuels to Renewables Would Add 8 Million Energy Sector Jobs Worldwide: Study

"Currently, an estimated 18 million people work in the energy industries—a number that is likely to increase, not decrease, to 26 million if we reach our global climate targets."

Brett Wilkins ·

AOC, Housing Advocates Slam 'Reckless' Biden Plan to Allow Evictions to Resume

The CDC's moratorium on evictions is set to expire on July 31.

Wyden Warns Millions of Poor Families Could Be 'Denied' Child Tax Credit Unless IRS Acts

Without urgent fixes to a shoddy online application portal, Wyden said, many of "America's most vulnerable communities" will not receive the expanded monthly benefit.

Jake Johnson ·