Democrats declined to require Dr. Rick Bright, the “whistleblower” who appeared before the House on Thursday, to testify under oath as he told a subcommittee that the Trump administration had not responded adequately to the coronavirus pandemic.
Bright, the former director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), was reassigned last month to a position at the National Institutes of Health. He claimed he was a victim of retaliation for his opposition to President Donald Trump’s support for the use of hydroxychloroquine, azithromycin, and zinc to treat coronavirus patients.
However, plans to remove Bright were reportedly in the works before the coronavirus pandemic, as he was accused of “incompetence and insubordination.” Politico also reported that Bright had written in support of hydroxychloroquine.
Bright, who has failed to show up for work at his new job, immediately hired attorney Debra Katz, who represented Christine Blasey Ford in 2018 during Democrats’ effort to stop the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
At the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health hearing, Ranking Member Rep. Dr. Michael Burgess (R-TX) noted that this was only the first hearing the committee was holding on the pandemic, five months after it first began.
Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR) noted that Katz was seated at the table next to Dr. Bright with a microphone, calling the arrangement “extraordinarily unusual” for a government witness to be testifying along with a private attorney.
Rep. Larry Bucshon (R-IN) raised a parliamentary objection, noting that Dr. Bright was not testifying under oath. “[If] he’s … not under oath, if we get into whistleblower allegations, how can we be sure the witness is telling the truth under oath if they’re not under oath, and if they’re not under oath, then how can you talk about the whistleblower complaints in a fair and equitable manner?” he asked.
Committee chair Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA) declined to place Dr. Bright under oath before his testimony, but noted that “all witnesses know that it is illegal to lie to Congress.”
Dr. Bright’s opening statement consisted largely of criticisms and concerns about the Trump administration’s policy response to the pandemic. He praised experts like Dr. Anthony Fauci, a member of President Trump’s coronavirus task force.
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). His new book, RED NOVEMBER, is available for pre-order. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.