The saga of Trump world has been one of corruption and dysfunction, where the unqualified are elevated to posts way beyond their capacity (yes, Jared, we mean you) and the competent find themselves censured or terminated simply for doing their jobs. This latest chapter involving Dr. Rick Bright, who filed an 89-page whistle blower complaint Tuesday and who is set to testify before the House of Representatives next Thursday is no different. In fact, it’s a sterling example of the Trump template on how to do government horrifically wrong.
You may recall the HHS Inspector General who was fired last Friday, Kristi Grimm. Dr. Bright had filed a report documenting his experiences with IG Grimm, and when he was getting ready to file his complaint, she was fired, and Trump announced that he “was nominating a handpicked replacement.” We don’t doubt that. Trump is going after a lot of inspectors general and intelligence people so that he can short stop the flow of information on how corrupt his administration really is. Between Bright telling Grimm the truth and her own chutzpah in filing a report on pandemic supply shortages, which is what brought her into Trump’s line of fire to begin with, Grimm is understandably no one Trump wanted to have around any longer. That’s just one thing that Dr. Bright may be asked about, but it’s actually a pebble on this pile of rocks. It gets much worse than that. Judd Legum, Popular Information:
A recurring character in the whistleblower report is John Clerici, a pharmaceutical industry “consultant” who was also friendly with Bright’s boss, Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Dr. Robert Kadlec. […]
On August 29, 2017, Mr. Clerici invited Dr. Bright to have coffee with him. During their meeting, Mr. Clerici clearly had the Aeolus contract in mind when he suggested that the BARDA review process was not always “fair.” He also remarked to Dr. Bright that “some of these CEOs are high maintenance,” and then referred specifically to Aeolus’s CEO John McManus, with whom Dr. Bright was scheduled to meet with the next day. Mr. Clerici warned that “McManus is a wildcard, and he is the kind of person who would write stories about you for the newspapers.” Dr. Bright knew this to be true from the articles that had appeared the previous spring. Mr. Clerici also emphasized that Mr. McManus is “friends with Jared [Kushner]” and “has Hollywood connections.”
You can see from the get go that this story has all the requisite weirdness which marks it as vintage Trump. And of course, there’s an incriminating time line where the professional, in this case, Dr. Bright, tried to warn everybody way back when what was going to happen and was ignored. The House will be intrigued to learn these details.
Beginning on January 13, when COVID-19 spread from China to Thailand, Bright began to press Kadlec “to move quickly, hire more personnel, secure funding and obtain [samples of] viruses to get started on medical countermeasures.” Bright’s warnings were “repeatedly met with seeming indifference by Dr. Kadlec.”
In a January 23 meeting about the pandemic, Bright “expressed concerns about the shortage of N95 masks, which he correctly anticipated would cause a health care crisis among first responders and health care providers.” Bright’s concerns were ignored, and the same day HHS issued a press release touting that SNS “holds millions of face masks as well as N95 respirators that could be used if needed in responding to a public health emergency when local supplies are exhausted and aren’t available from commercial suppliers.” Bright was excluded from the next high-level meeting on COVID-19. He was told by Bryan Shuy, Kadlec’s new chief of staff, that his warnings on masks had caused “quite a shit storm.”
On January 25, Bright sent and email to Kadlec: “Hearing face mask supply is also getting very low as China and HK trying to procure… May need to consider options here also before things are gone.” Nothing happened.
It goes on like this and I recommend that you read the entire article to get all the details. Fast forward to mid-March when Donald Trump had his epiphany about cloroquine and hydroxychloroquine — which was prior to his epiphany about UV lamps and bleach, both taken internally, as you may recall.
Around March 10, Kadlec and his staff began pressuring Bright “to promote the malaria drug chloroquine as a therapeutic for COVID-19, despite a clear lack of scientific support.” Bright believed it was an effort to “score a short-term political victory for the Administration during the escalating health crisis.”
A week later, a member of Kadlec’s staff emailed to say that Bayer had offered to donate 3 million doses of chloroquine to the SNS. Accepting the donation, the staff member said, “can be a BIG immediate win.” Experts on Bright’s staff, however, told him there was “no data available to support that chloroquine provides clinical benefit in the treatment or prevention of COVID-19.” Accepting the donation, they said, would be a mistake.
On March 23, Bright received a message from HHS’ chief counsel, passed down from the White House, instructing Bright “to drop everything and make the chloroquine donated by Bayer widely available to the American public.”
Bright, however, was increasingly worried about dangerous side effects of chloroquine, “including dangerous irregular heart rhythms and even fatalities—risks that could increase if the drugs were used in combination with other drugs.”
No one with authority in the administration, however, would listen to Bright’s concerns.
A short while later Bright was removed from his post. You remember Marie Yovanovich’s comments before Congress, “How could our system fail like this? How is it that foreign corrupt interests could manipulate our government?” Whether the corrupt interests are foreign or domestic, the answer both there and in this case is the same — Donald Trump. We live in an era where we have no president. The person in the Oval Office is the head grifter and he and the school of fish which swam in with him were dangerous before we got into a global pandemic scenario. Now they are lethal. This was what Trump had to say when he was asked about this situation.
“I never met Dr. Bright. I don’t know who he is. I didn’t hear good things about him. To me, he seems like a disgruntled employee that’s trying to help the Democrats.”
That’s as far as Trump can stretch his brain to wrap it around this situation. Everybody in government is his employee. Dr. Bright is no different from a waiter at Mar-a-Lago. This is Trump’s honest assessment. Mark next Thursday on your calendar. It’s going to be memorable, if not downright explosive.
This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.