Two appointees assigned to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Atlanta headquarters in June by the Trump administration have no public health background, The Associated Press reports. According to the report, the two have been assigned to keep an eye on Dr. Robert Redfield, the agency director, as well as other scientists.
The move is part of an effort to install political operatives at the agency in order to control messaging after a number of leaks “upsetting the apple cart,” an administration official told the AP. Nina Witkofsky, became acting chief of staff for Redfield. Her deputy Chester “Trey” Moeller, also began sitting in on scientific meetings.
"Witkofsky was installed initially as a senior adviser to Redfield. In a few weeks, she would take over as the agency’s acting chief of staff and gradually become the person at CDC headquarters who has the most daily interactions with him, the CDC officials said," HuffPost reports. "Senior CDC staff found out about the appointments the week before they happened, according to a CDC official who also spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal agency affairs. They had no office, and no one knew their role."
While the Trump administration has placed operatives that sparked suspicion at the CDC in the past, Witkofsky and Moeller's purpose to report back the White House was the most obvious. "[Witkofsky's] lack of familiarity with the CDC, and how it worked, quickly became clear in meetings, according to multiple agency officials. At one, Witkofsky expressed surprise that the CDC had a supporting foundation, one agency official recalled," according to HuffPost.
Read the full report over at The Associated Press.