Power Up: Former Trump advisers worry about the waning influence of scientists inside White House

  • “In preparing Homeland Security officials for questions about Rittenhouse from the media, the document suggests that they note that he ‘took his rifle to the scene of the rioting to help defend small business owners.’”

At the White House

IT”S NOT JUST THE SCIENTISTS in the Trump administration who are alarmed by the expanding role of Scott Atlas, a neuroradiologist who joined the White House as a pandemic adviser in August.

Joe Grogan, the former Domestic Policy Council chief and member of the coronavirus task force who left the White House in May, told Power Up he is “troubled” by the recent spate of attacks “from within senior leadership ranks” on Centers for Disease Control Director Robert Redfield, top infectious disease expert Anthony S. Fauci, and Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator. 

  • “Exposing the president to iconoclastic or dissenting views isn’t a mistake especially with Trump, Grogan told Power Up. “He benefits from having a multitude of views and allowing him to participate in back and forth … But I am troubled by some of the attacks that have come from within senior leadership ranks on [Birx], Redfield and Fauci. A number of those attacks are unfounded.”
  • “Who they want to get up there and speak is one thing, Grogan said, referring to briefings for the public. “But who is in the Oval Office debating issues? Is Atlas in there alone? Or in there with Birx, Redfield and other scientists who have spent their lives devoted to fighting infectious diseases?” 

Atlas, who does not have a background in infectious diseases or epidemiology, has said that fears about the novel coronavirus are overblown and introduced controversial ideas and measures to the president in response to the pandemic that has killed 206,000 Americans. NBC’s Monica Alba overheard Redfield last week in a conversation with a colleague on a commercial airline say Atlas was providing the president with incorrect information. 

  • Everything he says is false,” Redfield said during a phone call, Alba reported.
  • In a statement provided to NBC News, Atlas defended himself: “Everything I have said is directly from the data and the science. It echoes what is said by many of the top medical scientists in the world, including those at Stanford, Harvard, and Oxford.”
  • Of the backbiting against the administration’s top doctors, Grogan, who served as a senior policy adviser at the Food and Drug Administration for President George W. Bush and remains a Trump ally, explained: “There are ankle biters who are trying to jockey for position and out for themselves. But it’s damaging to have people going out anonymously to attack the country’s best experts.”

The White House disputed the idea that its top doctors have seen their roles diminished: “All of the medical experts in the Administration are working together around the clock to carry out the President’s number one priority: protecting the health and safety of the American people and defeating this virus from China,” White

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