WASHINGTON — The Trump administration accused a federal whistleblower Thursday of “one-sided arguments and misinformation” and drawing a six-figure salary while not showing up to work.

The Department of Health and Human Services in a statement on Thursday blasted Rick Bright, the former head of a vaccines development agency who says he was ousted when he pushed back on Trump administration decisions about an untested coronavirus treatment.

“Mr. Bright has not yet shown up for work, but continues to collect his $285,010 salary, while using his taxpayer-funded medical leave to work with partisan attorneys who are politicizing the response to Covid-19,” an HHS spokesperson said in a statement.

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The attacks came less than two hours after a more direct jab from President Trump.

“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.

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Bright is testifying Thursday before the House Energy and Commerce Committee, the first time Bright has spoken out publicly since formally filing a whistleblower complaint earlier this month. Bright was removed from his position as the head of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) in late April.

In response to similar criticisms, Bright has said via a spokesperson, Kendra Barkoff Lamy, that he is “on sick leave due to hypertension caused by this current situation.”

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The first hour of Thursday’s hearing focused far more on the committee process and the Trump administration’s Covid-19 response than on any of the allegations Bright has put forth or HHS’ latest accusations. Bright spent most of his opening statement detailing his own concerns with the Trump administration’s response rather than any of the alleged retaliatory actions.

Other officials who figure prominently in Bright’s complaint, HHS Secretary Alex Azar, Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Robert Kadlec, and White House adviser Peter Navarro, declined to testify Thursday, according to Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), the chair of the subcommittee that held the hearing.

The Office of Special Counsel has found “a substantial likelihood of wrongdoing” earlier this week, according to a preliminary finding dated May 12 that was released by a Bright spokesperson Thursday. The office will now direct HHS to conduct a full investigation, which could take more than a year.

The office has also recommended Bright be reinstated as head of BARDA pending further investigation. However, the decision on whether to take that recommendation lays with Azar.

  • Dr. Rick Bright is courageous, the other top health care individuals named in this article are cowards, or they have been threatened. Bright’s concerns about the virility of the virus, the shortfalls in the US health care system, and the errors in judgement at upper levels – all fell on obstinately deaf ears/ He got demoted for daring to speak up – like anyone else under Trump’s Tyranny. The proof that Bright is right will show in incredible Covid spread, already running amok in the US. Too many people forget that “Freedom” also means the right to be free of disease.

    • Agreed, Peter. Glad Dr. Nicholas has listed his name. Shame, shame, shame on you. (although more than likely, not an MD)
      “The Hippocratic Oath is an oath of ethics historically taken by physicians.”
      85,000+ people are dead and the doc has the profound brilliance of making this a political issue.
      So right out of the playbook of the trash mouth in DC, (talk about sewage, daily) here goes:
      ” bureaucratic swamp leftover from the Obamanation Sewage and the Fake News Loves Him.”
      85,000+ people are dead because testing meant more numbers and “more numbers don’t make me look good.” (well, at least that was an honest thought!)
      Tell me doc have you sampled the bleach or Lysol as a prophylactic yet?
      Spare me and return to your parallel universe of FOX.

  • Dr Rick (not so) Bright should have come up with a vaccine instead of casting doubt on the morale boosting comments of President Trump. Tricky Ricky is part of the bureaucratic swamp leftover from the obamanation sewage and the fake news loves him.

    • I agree 100%. Another “sell out” who found a way to get his 15 minutes of fame, and all the while receiving his tax payer money and not showing up for work! My daughter is a cashier who has came FACE TO FACE with infected people everyday, and she hasn’t had the LUXURY of NOT showing up for work! She is a single mother raising two children who have to be fed, and have a roof over their head! President Trump has done, and continues to do, everything humanly possible to fight this coronavirus. And President Trump ALWAYS has the right people for whatever our country is facing. Unfortunately this bad seed Dr. Bright slipped through the cracks and was hired in good faith that he would help make a difference. BUT HE DIDN’T SHOW UP ONE TIME FOR WORK, and HE wants to complain that President Trump was dragging HIS feet?? Come on!!! Can’t everyone see what’s going on??!! Good grief!!!

    • Hello. Maybe you didn’t hear… he was leading the vaccine efforts when he got ousted for email pleas, and warnings sent up the chain of command at HHS. They emailed him back saying they did not think preparedness was urgent nor needed. There are multiple emails. As you’ve probably heard by now, it normally takes YEARS to make an effective vaccine, to say he should have been doing his job is just well… lame. It’s very obvious Trump fires anyone who goes against him. Did you know he fired another IG this week? That is 4 in a month. Trump wants zero accountability placed on himself for very good reason. He is inept.

  • Please follow up with an expose on the gag orders or similar throttling of agency personnel by the chief executive. Parallels the use of gag order agreements in the Trump campaign and staff. Check with the Public Justice group who are challenging one such agreement.

  • It never fails, every time someone speak against Trump he says negative words against a person; because he has told so many lies, no one believes anything come out of Trump mouth, Dr Rick Bright has told the truth about this virus and Trump is trying to make him out as a liar; please stop letting trump get away with this nonsense he do not want to look bad against his base, but truth be told his base is not enough to get him Re- elected

    • I wish I could agree on the last point, but he’s probably gonna beat Biden in the election. Everyone’s head is spinning, make this all go away

    • I subscribed to SA to read about science, not opinion. I am thoroughly repulsed by this person bringing hateful political rants to serious publication.

    • u really r clueless..his base has widened..by far..freedom will always win in this country over gvt control..no matter what the media presents to you…americans are smarter than you think (xcept nyc, and cali(southern)…the dem communists are salivating as American suffer and our wonderful economy takes a hit bc of this…its sickening..biden and big gvt is not what is needed after a recession, no fdr please..gonna try 2 stack supreme court again?

    • Name one lie President Trump has told. Name it! Give me a specific example WITHOUT it being something that you’ve “heard” through the main stream media. I’m waiting….

  • The administration needs to appoint an expert to make a national plan to make enough tests, tracing and tracing. Find out what type of tests that is needed, regular test, or antibody tests, or antigen test.
    Please reinstate Dr. Bright so can discover a good vaccine!

  • I just listened to Dr. Rick Bright‘s testimony and all I can say is “What a whiney baby!” Who has put him up to this “whistleblower report?” What he is blowing the whistle on? It is about as clear as mud. Testing for this virus is still in its infancy and from what I understand is the tests can give false positives or false negatives depending on the circumstances. Finding a vaccine will take much longer. What is interesting is that the total number of deaths in the United States is still at 95% of the annual projected number of deaths annually, in the country, based on CDC projections! I follow the numbers.

    Further, it seems that many of the items Bright is complaining about (masks, swabs, etc.) his department was directly responsible for and had not replenished for the four years he held the position. Why was this the case?

    It seems the department he was fired from has been negligent in quite a few areas themselves and need to give some answers. Joe Kennedy’s questions, were not questions but a “speech”. He did not even give Dr. Bright a chance to acknowledge. I was surprised that Bright was not informed on several large grants that his department received, the equipment was not produced, and he had no knowledge of it. I take hydroxychloroquine for severe arthritis and have no problems with it.

    What I see is another finger pointing session, trying to blame the President and his administration for his lack of effectiveness in handling the virus displayed in party lines. I will say I was a bit confused why any people in the session were wearing masks since they kept taking them off, Why?

    Six months ago, the virus was virtually unknown but, I suppose the President should have had a crystal ball and known it was coming. I always believed it was a President’s duty to surround himself with qualified people to keep him informed. This hasn’t happened due to party lines and party attacks.

    • It should be obvious with anyone with half a brain that our country was very late in recognizing the danger of this virus. That means both Republicans and Democrats. They ALL let us down and that certainly includes Trump and his administration officials. I voted for Trump and have appreciated his efforts UNTIL this situation (Virus). He was waylaid by the Impeachment and was not bright enough or agile enough to figure out this Virus as an enemy of this country until it was too late. I am sorry for him and the country, particularly the victims (those that died). I am also very concerned about the economic victims. We could have opened this country back up quicker if we had a faster response by our government. Obviously Politics plays to big a part in decision making in our country. That is both Sad and Bad!

      Blanche—One did not need a crystal ball to follow the Virus as it made its way from China to the rest of the world to include the United States. Sometimes in critical areas one needs to get ahead of something before it kills you. There were enough mistakes made by both political parties to question whether we need two new ones to move ahead in the future. I know do not trust any of them (Democrats or republicans) and again that is “SAD”.

    • Problem is: DJT DID KNOW!! He was aware, but given his disregard for briefing material that mentioned on multiple occasions that COVID19 DOES EXIST and only believing the intelligentsia at Fox and Friends, we are where we are today. Do not scapegoat Dr. Fauci or Dr. Bright. We continue to get sucker-punched by the right wing BS parade and rhetoric.

    • Your assessment seems filled with much innuendo and political bias. As someone who states “I follow the numbers…” that it seems your soapbox is one of blame for Bright then kudos for a president and administration that I will state politely, dropped the ball then decided to kick it down the road.

    • yea, he was whining away..how many more people are going to play psychic and promote a dooms day everything..american spirit doesnt cower, but im wondering where that spirit is from 40 percent of the population

    • Your Obviously as delusional as Trump and his unqualified boy son in law who turned down offers to get PPE, look at who the Real screw ups are, your version of reality is as DELUSIONAL…

    • In February, Maybe it will be like a miracle and just disappear.” Who is kidding who? 45 wanted to minimize the virus because the economy is more important than human life. A sad commentary that this virus has now turned health into a political issue. Approx. 85,000 deaths today and Washington is questioning number inflation.
      The lies throughout this administration, the sins of omission, the minimizing is, if not impeachment worthy, then at the very least needs addressing in November.

    • Putrid excuse for an MD. Blowing the whistle on honest responses to an unreliable series of viral health manifestations.

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