2020 vice presidential debate truth examine and information protection
Vice President Mike Pence and Kamala Harris have briefly dealt with a dispute that was part of the political dispute over Covid-19 – regardless of whether or not the Trump White House disbanded an Obama-era pandemic team.
Harris said the Obama administration “created an office in the White House essentially responsible for monitoring pandemics,” claiming the Trump administration “got rid of it.” Pence replied, “Not true.”
Facts first: That the Trump administration got rid of the office is true, but it’s complicated. The White House pandemic team was disbanded under Trump, but some of the team’s public health officials were kept on board and assigned related roles. It’s impossible to know if that move resulted in a botched US response to Covid-19, but many leading public health experts have said the US is better off if the pandemic team is intact.
Two things are clear: Number one: The Obama administration has put together a special team on the National Security Council to deal with pandemic preparedness and global health. Number two, this team no longer exists.
The officer in charge, counteradministrator Timothy Ziemer, left in 2018. At that time, John Bolton became Trump’s new National Security Advisor and reshuffled the NSC, which included changes to the pandemic team. CNN previously reported that another official with a similar area of responsibility has less authority than Ziemer before he left.
As for the fate of the White House pandemic team, it depends on who you ask. Trump critics and former Obama administration officials say the team has been fired, eliminated or disbanded. Trump and his Conservative allies say the group has been streamlined, reorganized or reassigned.
Beth Cameron, who led the pandemic team after it was created by the White House Obama, said Trump “closed” the office and that move severely hampered the US response to Covid-19. Tim Morrison, who oversaw the new operation in the Trump administration, said the amalgamated group of NSC officials was “stronger because the expertise involved could be mixed up”.
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