This Latest Whistleblower Was Fired for Incompetence and Insubordination but Now He's a Hero Because He's Attacking President Trump

AP Photo/Alex Brandon

Just when you thought things couldn’t get stupider, you find out you were wrong. We have a whistleblower.

A former top vaccine official removed from his post last month alleged in a whistleblower complaint on Tuesday that he was reassigned to a less prestigious role because he tried to “prioritize science and safety over political expediency” and raised health concerns over a drug repeatedly pushed by President Trump as a possible cure for coronavirus.

Rick Bright, former director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, was removed April 20 after having served as BARDA director for nearly four years. He was reassigned to a narrower role at the National Institutes of Health that the Department of Health and Human Services touted as part of a “bold new plan” to improve testing to defeat covid-19, the disease caused by coronavirus.

Bright portrays himself in the 89-page complaint as an administration health official trying to sound the alarm about the virus beginning in early January. He said he called for the rapid development of treatments and vaccines, as well as the stockpiling of additional N95 face masks and ventilators, at a time when HHS political leadership, including Secretary Alex Azar, appeared to him to be underestimating the threat.

He also notes that he clashed with his boss, assistant secretary for preparedness and response at HHS Robert Kadlec, for at least two years. Bright alleges in the complaint that Kadlec and others pressured him to buy drugs and medical products for the nation’s stockpile of emergency medical equipment from companies that were linked politically to the administration and that he resisted such efforts.

Any time someone starts woofing about how they knew what was going to happen before anyone else, you know you are dealing with a self-serving fraud. For instance, there was never a shortage of ventilators and it has been shown, in spades, what was already known in at least medical research circles, that ventilators seem to do more harm than good:

The Covid-19 treatment guidelines released by the NIH do not specifically address what criteria physicians should use for putting patients on a ventilator. But in a recognition of the damage that the ventilators can do, they recommend a phased approach to breathing support: oxygen delivered by simple nose prongs, escalating if necessary to one of the positive-pressure devices, and intubation only if the patient’s respiratory status deteriorates. If mechanical ventilation becomes necessary, the NIH said, it should be used to deliver only low volumes of oxygen, reflecting the risk of damaging healthy lung tissue.

“Patients can tolerate low oxygen levels in the blood often remarkably well,” Schultz said. “They do not need to be intubated [unless levels are] getting too extremely low for too long.” Some patients “were asked to get off their cell phone because they had to be intubated,” he added. “That is not necessary, and we frequently decided not to intubate.”

While Bright tries to give the impression that he was some kind of Jeremiah (or Cassandra) spouting warnings that a feckless administration didn’t heed. The facts say different (reposting this from While the New York Times Was Shopping ChiCom Propaganda to the Nation, President Trump Was Trying to Keep Us Safe). This is what actually took place (hat tip to Steve Guest of the NRC for his timely assist on the below, give him a follow on Twitter if you don’t already):

December 31: China reports the discovery of the coronavirus to the World Health Organization.

January 3: CDC Director Robert Redfield sent an email to the director of the Chinese CDC, George Gao, formally offering to send U.S. experts to China to investigate the coronavirus.

January 5: CDC Director Redfield sent another email to the Chinese CDC Director, George Gao, formally offering to send U.S. experts to China to investigate the coronavirus outbreak,

January 6: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a travel notice for Wuhan, China, due to the spreading coronavirus.

January 7: The CDC established a coronavirus incident management system to better share and respond to information about the virus.

January 11: The CDC issued a Level I travel health notice for Wuhan, China.

January 17: The CDC began implementing public health entry screening at the 3 U.S. airports that received the most travelers from Wuhan – San Francisco, New York JFK, and Los Angeles.

January 20: Dr. Fauci announced the National Institutes of Health was already working on the development of a vaccine for the coronavirus.

January 21: The CDC activated its emergency operations center to provide ongoing support to the coronavirus response.

January 23: The CDC sought a “special emergency authorization” from the FDA to allow states to use its newly developed coronavirus test.

January 27: President Trump tweeted that he made an offer to President Xi Jinping to send experts to China to investigate the coronavirus outbreak.

January 27: The CDC issued a level III travel health notice urging Americans to avoid all nonessential travel to China due to the coronavirus.

January 27: The White House Coronavirus Task Force started meeting to help monitor and contain the spread of the virus and provide updates to the President.

January 29: The White House announced the formation of the Coronavirus Task Force to help monitor and contain the spread of the virus and provide updates to the President.

January 31: The Trump Administration:

  • Declared the coronavirus a public health emergency.
  • Announced Chinese travel restrictions.
  • Suspended entry into the United States for foreign nationals who pose a risk of transmitting the coronavirus.

January 31: The Department of Homeland Security took critical steps to funnel all flights from China into just 7 domestic U.S. airports.

February 3: The CDC had a team ready to travel to China to obtain critical information on the novel coronavirus, but were in the U.S. awaiting permission to enter by the Chinese government.

February 4: President Trump vowed in his State of the Union Address to “take all necessary steps” to protect Americans from the coronavirus.

February 6: The CDC began shipping CDC-Developed test kits for the 2019 Novel Coronavirus to U.S. and international labs.

February 7: President Trump told reporters that the CDC is working with China on the coronavirus.

February 9: The White House Coronavirus Task Force briefed governors from across the nation at the National Governors’ Association Meeting in Washington.

February 11: The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) expanded a partnership with Janssen Research & Development to “expedite the development” of a coronavirus vaccine.

February 12: The U.S. shipped test kits for the 2019 novel coronavirus to approximately 30 countries who lacked the necessary reagents and other materials.

February 12: The CDC was prepared to travel to China but had yet to receive permission from the Chinese government.

February 14: The CDC began working with five labs to conduct “community-based influenza surveillance” to study and detect the spread of coronavirus.

February 18: HHS announced it would engage with Sanofi Pasteur in an effort to quickly develop a coronavirus vaccine and to develop treatment for coronavirus infections.

February 22: A WHO team of international experts arrives in Wuhan, China.

February 24: The Trump Administration sent a letter to Congress requesting at least $2.5 billion to help combat the spread of the coronavirus.

February 26: President Trump discussed coronavirus containment efforts with Indian PM Modi and updated the press on his Administration’s containment efforts in the U.S. during his state visit to India.

February 29: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) allowed certified labs to develop and begin testing coronavirus testing kits while reviewing pending applications.

February 29: The Trump Administration:

  • Announced a level 4 travel advisory to areas of Italy and South Korea.
  • Barred all travel to Iran.
  • Barred the entry of foreign citizens who visited Iran in the last 14 days.

March 3: The CDC lifted federal restrictions on coronavirus testing to allow any American to be tested for coronavirus, “subject to doctor’s orders.”

March 3: The White House announced President Trump donated his fourth-quarter salary to fight the coronavirus.

March 4: The Trump Administration announced the purchase of approximately 500 million N95 respirators over the next 18 months to respond to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus.

March 4: Secretary Azar announced that HHS was transferring $35 million to the CDC to help state and local communities that have been impacted most by the coronavirus.

March 6: President Trump signed an $8.3 billion bill to fight the coronavirus outbreak.

The bill provides $7.76 billion to federal, state, & local agencies to combat the coronavirus and authorizes an additional $500 million in waivers for Medicare telehealth restrictions.

March 9: President Trump called on Congress to pass a payroll tax cut over coronavirus.

March 10: President Trump and VP Pence met with top health insurance companies and secured a commitment to waive co-pays for coronavirus testing.

March 11: President Trump:

  • Announced travel restrictions on foreigners who had visited Europe in the last 14 days.
  • Directed the Small Business Administration to issue low-interest loans to affected small businesses and called on Congress to increase this fund by $50 billion.
  • Directed the Treasury Department to defer tax payments for affected individuals & businesses, & provide $200 billion in “additional liquidity.”
  • Met with American bankers at the White House to discuss coronavirus.

March 13: President Trump declared a national emergency in order to access $42 billion in existing funds to combat the coronavirus.

As to the usefulness of stocking masks, I’m a confirmed mask skeptic and up until the middle of April so were a lot of other people:

I haven’t seen enough about his procurement allegations to make an evaluation and one man’s aggressive start up is often the staid bureaucrat’s ‘politically connected vendor.’ The only real question is whether the vendor was competent to do the job and whether they were able to produce what was required at a price that doesn’t screw the taxpayer.

His claim about his opposition to hydroxychloroquine reads more like #Resistance porn thrown in to get media attention than any serious accusation. That drug is so old that its patent has expired and its use and import are regulated by the FDA not BARDA. If he was meddling in that process, he should have been fired for his efforts.

The actual history is a lot more complex.

In fact, it was known as early as January 2 that Bright was going to be fired because of major issues with his management and leadership style. The tweet is from Politico reporter Dan Diamond:

Plus, rather than being an opponent of hydroxychloroquine, he was a major fan:

I’m afraid that the whole Vindman/Ciaramella affair has created for incompetent and politically motivated bureaucrats an effective tool to evade the consequences of their action. The corrupt decision to Michael Atkinson, the IC IG, to classify as a whistleblower complaint mere gossip outside the scope of the law, has, in effect, made all complaints whistleblower complaints and guaranteed an audience in the media and on Capitol Hill for them.

Bright’s allegations seem like nothing more than an attempt to use the whistleblower statute to obtain revenge on his superiors for firing him and he is dragging President Trump into the fray as a way of increasing his odds of winning.