White House’s Deepening Rift Goes Public

Presidential advisors’ rifts with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as the coronavirus pandemic, and the response’s economic fallout, continue has gone public.

From the beginning, some White House officials reportedly vented in private about the CDC’s testing shortcomings. Their complaints grew louder as the weeks accumulated. (The Hill)

White House trade adviser Peter Navarro took the fight public on Sunday, saying the CDC had “let the country down” with its early testing woes. The comments were the sharpest public criticism of the agency to date from a member of the administration.

President Trump and other officials on Monday sought to tamp down the appearance of any discord between the CDC and the rest of the administration. Some defended the CDC’s involvement in the pandemic response and portrayed Navarro’s comments as either out of line or out of context.

Trump praised the CDC for its work before deferring to Vice President Mike Pence, who told reporters that he believed Navarro was specifically criticizing the “arcane testing system” that existed in the early stages of the pandemic. Pence noted the private sector has since gotten involved and the country has significantly increased its testing capacity, recently surpassing 11 million total tests performed.

Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar, who oversees the CDC, called Navarro’s comments “inaccurate and inappropriate.”