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House panel probes report administration tweaked COVID-19 data to please Trump

President Donald Trump acknowledges the crowd after participating in a Latinos for Trump Coalition roundtable Monday, Sept. 14, 2020, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
President Donald Trump acknowledges the crowd after participating in a Latinos for Trump Coalition roundtable Monday, Sept. 14, 2020, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)(Ross D. Franklin | AP)
Published: Sep. 15, 2020 at 4:02 PM CDT
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WASHINGTON (AP) - A House subcommittee examining President Donald Trump’s response to the coronavirus pandemic is launching an investigation into reports that political appointees have meddled with routine government scientific data to better align with Mr. Trump’s public statements.

The Democrat-led subcommittee is requesting transcribed interviews with seven officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of Health and Human Services, including communications aide Michael Caputo.

He has often publicly pushed back on CDC statements about the coronavirus and said falsely in a Facebook video on Sunday that the CDC has a “resistance unit” to undermine Mr. Trump, according to The New York Times.

His page has since been made private. According to a report in Politico, Caputo, along with scientific adviser Paul Alexander, pressured officials to alter the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports, a long-running weekly journal that features the latest science-based research and data on infectious diseases.

The report has long been a sacred government information resource for doctors, scientists and researchers tracking outbreaks.

Politico reports the officials pressured CDC to change the reports, at times retroactively, to better align them with Trump’s often rosier public statements about the coronavirus.

Also, Caputo said on a taxpayer-funded podcast that Democrats don’t want a coronavirus vaccine until after the election to punish the president.

HHS is standing by Caputo amid calls for his ouster.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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