April 22, 2020

Harris, Colleagues Call for Broad Investigations of the Trump Administration’s COVID-19 Response

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Kamala D. Harris (D-CA) on Wednesday joined Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and 8 of their Senate colleagues in calling for investigations into the Trump Administration’s coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) response, including whether political expediency rather than the country’s urgent public health needs has driven the Trump Administration’s distribution of life-saving medical supplies and equipment and other key public health and economic decisions. Senators Tom Udall (D-NM), Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) joined Senators Harris and Warren in the letter to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)’s Offices of the Inspector General.

“This confusion has been exacerbated by President Trump’s public statements suggesting that governors’ political support for his administration could influence how much support they receive from the federal government,” wrote the lawmakers in their letter to HHS and FEMA Inspectors General. “This obfuscation underscores the need for clarity as to how decisions regarding the seizure and redistribution of supplies are being made, and whether or not they are tainted with political interference.”

The Trump administration has been unable to deliver urgently-needed medical supplies, including personal protective equipment (PPE) and ventilators, and has created confusion and distress among states by seizing equipment orders and providing little transparency about decision-making. The Trump Administration appears to have made decisions about distributing life-saving supplies based on the electoral concerns of President Trump and his political allies rather than the most urgent public health needs. The senators also raise concerns about Jared Kushner’s involvement in Project Airbridge and evidence he may have fast-tracked shipments at the requests of donors and other friends.

Text of the letter to HHS & FEMA OIG can be found here.

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