CNN host clashes with ex-Trump health official over asymptomatic testing policy: 'I take issue with that'

CNN host clashes with ex-Trump health official over asymptomatic testing policy: 'I take issue with that'
Image via Screengrab.

Former President Donald Trump's mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 has drawn widespread criticism from Democrats as well as Never Trump conservatives, and that includes the COVID-19 testing guidelines of the Trump era. Adm. Brett Giroir, who served as assistant health secretary in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services under Trump, discussed those guidelines during a November 18 appearance on CNN's "New Day" — and clashed with host Brianna Keilar.

Keilar opened the segment by noting that "top health officials said they felt muzzled by the White House under Trump," and she pointed out that in August 2020, the Trump-era testing guidance said that people who had been exposed to COVID-19 didn't necessarily need to get tested if they were asymptomatic.

Keilar told Giroir, "The guidance said to people who were asymptomatic that they didn't necessarily need to get tested, even at a time where you, certainly the testing czar, knew — and all of the officials at that table knew — that there was pronounced asymptomatic spread. How did that happen, and what did you do to try to stop that?"

Giroir responded that Dr. Deborah Birx, who was part of Trump's pandemic task force in the White House, feared that the CDC testing guidance would be "misinterpreted."

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The former HHS official told Keilar, "In retrospect, she was right. It was misinterpreted highly by the media, and it was changed within two weeks."

But Keilar responded, "Look, I take issue with that. The media reported that this guidance was bad. We were talking to doctors, we were talking to scientists who immediately — when they saw it was out there, that you all had put it out there — they said this guidance is anti-science. And we were very clear."

Keilar went on to tell Giroir, "You admitted, sir, that the guidance was revised because it wasn't good. And the media, many outlets reported that it wasn't good from the jump. But Dr. Birx did testify that the Trump administration was against testing people who were not symptomatic…. The president was very clear about testing — that he didn't want testing because it revealed positive results."

Giroir grew increasingly defensive, telling Keilar, "Not true" — to which she responded, "He said it publicly…. Admiral, he said it out loud. I'm not talking about in private; he said that publicly…. Dr. Birx testified that the Trump Administration was against testing people who were not symptomatic, despite what health officials were saying. And that resulted in less and less testing. Are you saying that she's lying?"

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Watch the video below:

CNN interview www.youtube.com

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