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Trump fires NOAA’s chief scientist for asking political appointees to follow scientific integrity rules

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President Donald Trump. (Christos S / Shutterstock.com)

The Chief Scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is out.

Craig McLean, who until recently was the acting chief scientist, had sent a memo to political appointees at NOAA requesting that they, like everyone else, observe the agency’s scientific integrity rules, The New York Times reports.

The next day one of President Donald Trump’s political appointees, Erik Noble, told him he was out and had already been replaced.

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The NOAA is the federal government’s premier scientific agency. It oversees vital agencies including the National Weather Service.

The Times reveals that Trump’s new political appointees at the agency “have questioned accepted facts about climate change and imposed stricter controls on communications at the agency.”

It’s a formula Americans have seen at other federal agencies under this president, including the scandal surrounding Health and Human Services spokesperson Michael Caputo.

“Mr. McLean had sent some of the new political appointees a message that asked them to acknowledge the agency’s scientific integrity policy, which prohibits manipulating research or presenting ideologically driven findings,” The Times reports.

“Respectfully, by what authority are you sending this to me?” Noble replied to McLean.

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The following morning, Dr. Noble responded. “You no longer serve as the acting chief scientist for NOAA,” he informed Mr. McLean, adding that a new chief scientist had already been appointed. “Thank you for your service.”

Many Americans may not have been familiar with NOAA, but last year Trump’s infamous redrawing of a vital Hurricane Dorian forecasting map made headlines for weeks, after weather forecasters were forced to correct Trump’s false statements about a storm’s trajectory.

Last fall McLean emails staff at NOAA criticizing the agency’s kowtowing to Trump “political” and a “danger to public health and safety.”

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