Thomas Gallatin / April 24, 2020

HHS Doc Dubiously Claims Firing Over Objection to Hydroxychloroquine

He seemingly aims to exploit the Leftmedia’s anti-Trump bias to spin a false narrative in his favor.

The former head of the Department of Health and Human Services’ Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), Dr. Rick Bright, is suing the Trump administration, claiming that his recent demotion was due to having “resisted efforts to provide an unproven drug on demand to the American people.” The drug in question is hydroxychloroquine, the anti-malarial drug President Donald Trump has often named as a possible treatment for COVID-19.

Bright was transferred to a lesser post at the National Institutes of Health, a transfer he says “was in response to my insistence that the government invest the billions of dollars allocated by Congress to address the COVID-19 pandemic into safe and scientifically vetted solutions, and not in drugs, vaccines and other technologies that lack scientific merit.” Got that? It’s all about science. “I am speaking out,” he went on, “because to combat this deadly virus, science — not politics or cronyism — has to lead the way.” He further insisted, “To this point, I have led the government’s efforts to invest in the best science available to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, this resulted in clashes with HHS political leadership, including criticism for my proactive efforts to invest early in vaccines and supplies critical to saving American lives. I also resisted efforts to fund potentially dangerous drugs promoted by those with political connections.”

Bright’s claim that his lawsuit isn’t politically motivated doesn’t pass the giggle test. For one thing, he procured two of DC’s most notorious anti-Trump lawyers, Debra Katz and Lisa Banks. If those names don’t ring a bell, they represented Christine Blasey Ford in her dubious and completely unsupported allegations against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

Meanwhile, an HHS official familiar with the situation noted that “if Bright opposed hydroxychloroquine, he certainly didn’t make that clear from his email — quite the opposite.” In fact, Politico reports, “Three people with knowledge of HHS’ recent acquisition of tens of millions of doses of those drugs said that Bright had supported those acquisitions in internal communications, with one official saying that Bright praised the move as a win for the health department as part of an email exchange that was first reported by Reuters last week, although Bright’s message was not publicly reported.” Far from objecting to the drug, HHS spokeswoman Caitlin Oakley told Politico: “As it relates to chloroquine, it was Dr. Bright who requested an Emergency Use Authorization from the Food and Drug Administration for donations of chloroquine that Bayer and Sandoz recently made to the Strategic National Stockpile for use on COVID-19 patients. The [Emergency Use Authorization] is what made the donated product available for use in combating COVID-19.”

Indeed, it appears the actual reason for Bright’s removal had nothing to do with hydroxychloroquine and everything to do with job performance. HHS sources claim that the decision to remove him from BARDA leadership was initiated over a year ago. The Washington Post reports that Bright “repeatedly clashed with his boss, Robert Kadlec, the assistant HHS secretary for preparedness and response,” and one official said his departure “had been discussed by agency officials before the pandemic due to dissatisfaction with his job performance.”

The Leftmedia, which fell for this doc’s dubious story, might not have if it had actually engaged in legitimate investigative journalism instead of playing a “gotcha” game with Trump. Far from being a heroic “whistleblower,” Bright appears to have used the Leftmedia’s animosity toward Trump to spin a false narrative — a narrative that it was all too eager to propagate.

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