FACT CHECK: No, Trump Did Not ‘Fire’ Pandemic Specialist or ‘Defund’ CDC

Mike Bloomberg (Logan Cyrus / Getty)
Logan Cyrus / Getty

CLAIM: President Trump “fired” the government’s pandemic specialist, and “defunded” the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

VERDICT: Mostly false. The specialist was not fired; he quit. Some CDC cuts were proposed, but not implemented.

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg claimed at the Democrat debate in Charleston, South Carolina, on Tuesday night that President Donald Trump had “fired” the government’s pandemic expert and “defunded” the Centers for Disease Control:

One of the great problems today, you read about the virus, what’s really happening here is the president fired the pandemic specialist in this country two years ago, so there’e nobody here to figure out what the hell we should be doing. [Applause] And he’s defunded Centers for Disease Control, CDC so we don’t have the organization we need.

In reality, the pandemic expert — Rear Adm. Timothy Ziemer — left the National Security Council (NSC) voluntarily after then-National Security Advisor John Bolton was appointed.

Bolton disbanded the unit that Ziemer was supervising as part of an effort to downsize the bloated NSC staff. The purpose of the unit, which had overseen the global fight against Ebola, had largely been fulfilled.

It is true that Ziemer and his unit have not yet been replaced.

The Trump administration has indeed proposed cuts to the CDC, but they have not been passed by Congress.

Trump has not “defunded” the agency, and Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar has said that the new proposed budget would, in fact, prioritize the fight against coronavirus.

Recently, the administration reversed course, asking for $2.5 billion in emergency funding for managing the coronavirus.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He earned an A.B. in Social Studies and Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard College, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

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