Trump attacks whistleblower Bright as ‘disgruntled employee’
President Trump on Thursday criticized health official Rick Bright and said he should “no longer” be working for the federal government shortly before the whistleblower was slated to testify before a House panel about the Trump administration’s response to the novel coronavirus.
Trump tweeted that he had never met nor heard of Bright and claimed that the former federal vaccine doctor was “not liked or respected” by people whom the president has consulted, labeling him a “disgruntled employee.”
“I don’t know the so-called Whistleblower Rick Bright, never met him or even heard of him, but to me he is a disgruntled employee, not liked or respected by people I spoke to and who, with his attitude, should no longer be working for our government!” Trump tweeted Thursday morning.
Bright is expected to deliver critical testimony to a House committee later Thursday saying that the Trump administration was unprepared for the coronavirus pandemic. He plans to warn that without a coordinated national response, this year will be “the darkest winter in modern history,” according to a leaked copy of his prepared remarks.
Bright served at the helm of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority from 2016 until last month, when he was reassigned to a narrower position based at the National Institutes of Health.
Bright filed a whistleblower complaint following his reassignment alleging that his early warnings about the virus were met with indifference at the Department of Health and Human Services and that his efforts to push back on the use of hydroxychloroquine to treat the coronavirus, something Trump touted, contributed to his removal from the high-level post.
Bright is seeking to be reinstated in his former position and asked for a full investigation into the decision to reassign him.
Bright, who first came forward with his claims in late April, is slated to testify before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health at 10 a.m. Thursday morning.
Trump has repeatedly said he didn’t know Bright, while dismissing him as a seemingly “disgruntled employee.”
“I don’t know who he is. I did not hear good things about him at all,” Trump told reporters at the White House on May 6. “And to me he seems like a disgruntled employee that’s trying to help the Democrats win an election.”