White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said President Trump’s accusations of a “deep state” at the Food and Drug Administration were meant to push bureaucrats for solutions to the coronavirus pandemic.
Meadows appeared on ABC’s “This Week” with host George Stephanopoulos on Sunday to discuss the president’s Saturday tweet and efforts to come up with treatments and a vaccine for COVID-19. Meadows said that the tweet, and an announcement from Trump expected on Sunday afternoon, is about cutting red tape that is slowing the approval process.
“It’s not just the FDA, it’s NIH and others,” Meadows said. “We’re not cutting any corners. But what we have is … a China virus that came here. We’ve got to deliver answers, and the president each and every day is saying, ‘Why don’t we have an answer today? Why don’t we have an answer tomorrow?’”
On Sunday morning, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany announced that the president would be unveiling a “major therapeutic breakthrough on the China Virus” on Sunday evening during a press conference.
“We continue to look at some of the trials and what’s happening, and we want to wear a belt and suspenders the way that some of these bureaucrats want to look at it. They want to do things the way they’ve always done it,” Meadows continued. “This president is about cutting red tape. That’s what the tweet was all about.”
“He had to make sure that they felt the heat. If they don’t see the light, they need to feel the heat because the American people are suffering. This president knows it, and he’s going to put it on, [whether] it’s the FDA or NIH or anybody else to make sure that we deliver on behalf of the American people,” Meadows said.
.@GStephanopoulos: So Trump does believes there are those in the FDA who are trying to delay testing vaccines and therapeutics for political purposes?
Mark Meadows: “I believe that there are a number of people that do not see the same sense of urgency.” https://t.co/P6iz1jjwYE pic.twitter.com/C2lLlPTAJ5
— This Week (@ThisWeekABC) August 23, 2020
Meadows also said that Trump has to rely on other methods of holding bureaucrats accountable other than simply firing poor workers because legally cutting someone from a federal job is “almost impossible.”
Trump tweeted Saturday that members of the FDA have been delaying approvals amid the pandemic to delay treatments until after the election.
“The deep state, or whoever, over at the FDA is making it very difficult for drug companies to get people in order to test the vaccines and therapeutics. Obviously, they are hoping to delay the answer until after November 3rd. Must focus on speed, and saving lives!” Trump said, tagging FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn.
The deep state, or whoever, over at the FDA is making it very difficult for drug companies to get people in order to test the vaccines and therapeutics. Obviously, they are hoping to delay the answer until after November 3rd. Must focus on speed, and saving lives! @SteveFDA
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 22, 2020
Trump’s criticism of the FDA came less than two weeks after Hahn had promised the FDA would not “cut corners” on approving treatments or a vaccine for the coronavirus in response to concerns that the agency was rushing approvals because of the pandemic.
“Let me assure you that we will not cut corners,” Hahn told the American Medical Association during an Aug. 10 briefing. “All of our decisions will continue to be based on good science and the same careful deliberative processes we have always used when reviewing medical products.”