A series of emails illustrate how the US Department of Health and Human Services spokesperson and his science advisor sought to silence Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials, according to the New York Times.
The spokesperson, Michael Caputo, is now on a two-month leave, following the appearance of a social media video in which he calls government scientists "seditious," and his science advisor, Paul Alexander, has also left the department.
The Times reports that Caputo and Alexander's tenure at HHS was viewed as a "five-month campaign of bullying and intimidation." For instance, it reports that Alexander wrote a two-page critique of an interview Anne Schuchat, a deputy director at CDC, gave in June on COVID-19 in which he said her aim was "to embarrass the president." He also, the Times notes, took aim at her statements regarding the dangers of COVID-19. It adds that Caputo then forwarded Alexander's critique to Robert Redfield, the CDC director.
Politico previously reported that Caputo and Alexander also sought to review and change reports appearing in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports.
These emails, the Times says, show how Caputo and Alexander sought to "browbeat career officials at the CDC at the height of the pandemic, challenging the science behind their public statements and trying to silence agency staff."