The House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis released to CNN on Friday new evidence showing how US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials were pressured by Trump administration officials to alter scientific guidance and prevented from communicating directly with the public.
In new excerpts of transcribed interviews, Dr. Nancy Messonnier, the former director of the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said she was made aware that then-President Donald Trump was angered by a February 25, 2020, briefing during which she warned the public about the dangers of the coronavirus. Messonnier says in the transcript she had calls with former CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield and former US Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar after the briefing, and that she was "upset" after her conversation with Azar.
In the transcripts, other CDC officials described how requests to hold briefings about mask guidance and pediatric Covid-19 cases and deaths were denied. When asked about a CNN report that CDC officials felt "muzzled," Dr. Anne Schuchat, CDC's former principal deputy director, said, "That is the feeling that we had, many of us had."
CDC officials also appeared to take issue with invoking a public health authority to expel migrants.
Further, several interviews described efforts by the administration to alter or influence the agency's guidance and weekly scientific reports, the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, which typically are not shared outside the agency before they're published.
In a memo not made public until now, then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows emailed to Vice President Mike Pence's top aide, on New Year's Eve, a detailed plan for undoing President Joe Biden's election victory, ABC News' Chief Washington Correspondent Jonathan Karl reports.
The memo, written by former President Donald Trump's campaign lawyer Jenna Ellis, is reported for the first time in Karl's upcoming book, "Betrayal: The Final Act of the Trump Show" -- demonstrating how Pence was under even more pressure than previously known to overturn the results of the 2020 election.
Ellis, in the memo, outlined a multi-step strategy: On Jan. 6, the day Congress was to certify the 2020 election results, Pence was to send back the electoral votes from six battleground states that Trump falsely claimed he had won.
The memo said that Pence would give the states a deadline of "7pm eastern standard time on January 15th" to send back a new set of votes, according to Karl.
Then, Ellis wrote, if any state legislature missed that deadline, "no electoral votes can be opened and counted from that state."
Such a scenario would leave neither Biden nor Trump with a majority of votes, Ellis wrote, which would mean "Congress shall vote by state delegation" -- which, Ellis said, would in turn lead to Trump being declared the winner due to Republicans controlling the majority of state delegations with 26.
Jonathan Karl: "Were you worried about him during that siege? Were you worried about his safety?"
Trump: "No, I thought he was well-protected, and I had heard that he was in good shape. No. Because I had heard he was in very good shape. But, but, no, I think — "
Karl: "Because you heard those chants — that was terrible. I mean — "
Trump: "He could have — well, the people were very angry."
Karl: "They were saying 'hang Mike Pence.'"
Trump: "Because it's common sense, Jon. It's common sense that you're supposed to protect. How can you — if you know a vote is fraudulent, right? — how can you pass on a fraudulent vote to Congress? How can you do that? And I'm telling you: 50/50, it's right down the middle for the top constitutional scholars when I speak to them. Anybody I spoke to — almost all of them at least pretty much agree, and some very much agree with me — because he's passing on a vote that he knows is fraudulent. How can you pass a vote that you know is fraudulent? Now, when I spoke to him, I really talked about all of the fraudulent things that happened during the election. I didn't talk about the main point, which is the legislatures did not approve — five states. The legislatures did not approve all of those changes that made the difference between a very easy win for me in the states, or a loss that was very close, because the losses were all very close."