Trump suggests distancing guidelines may be extended

Rep. Anna Eshoo
Rep. Anna Eshoo Caroline Brehman/CQ-Roll Call, Inc/Getty Images/FILE

Rep. Anna Eshoo, the chairwoman of the House’s Health subcommittee, told CNN she plans to call in Dr. Rick Bright to testify before her panel as she reviews the circumstances of his removal from a key position after he raised concerns about the safety of a drug that President Trump touted as a potential vaccine to coronavirus.

“I think the American people deserve to hear Dr Bright’s story,” Eshoo told CNN. “He really has worked for the American people — they are the ones who have paid his salary. A thoroughbred professional — and to set him aside in one of the most key positions to develop vaccines in the midst of the pandemic? The story doesn’t make sense to me. So I think it deserves examination.”

Eshoo said she also wants to call Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and Bob Kadlec, the assistant secretary for preparedness and response, to testify before her panel.

“I don’t know where this began, why, who where, when, why,” said Eshoo, whose subcommittee falls under the Energy and Commerce full committee. “But I think it deserves to be examined and the story told.”

Eshoo said she wants to have hearings as soon as it’s “feasible” and said she’s willing to return to Washington to probe the matter.

“I’m willing to come here, I think others will as well,” she said Thursday.

Eshoo appears to have backing from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Asked by CNN about the Bright situation, Pelosi directed an inquiry to Eshoo.

Some context: Bright had led BARDA, the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, since 2016 until Tuesday, when he was reassigned to a narrower position.

“I believe this transfer was in response to my insistence that the government invest the billions of dollars allocated by Congress to address the Covid-19 pandemic into safe and scientifically vetted solutions, and not in drugs, vaccines and other technologies that lack scientific merit,” Bright said in a lengthy statement issued Wednesday. “I am speaking out because to combat this deadly virus, science — not politics or cronyism — has to lead the way.”