One of Donald Trump’s own top pandemic advisers hinted that she wanted him to lose in 2020, according to a new book.
According to Andy Slavitt, a former administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Dr Deborah Birx dropped the hint at a meeting with Minnesota officials in August 2020. In his new book, Preventable, Mr Slavitt recalls asking Dr Birx if she would help out in a potential Joe Biden administration.
“At one point, after a brief pause, she looked me in the eye and said, ‘I hope the election turns out a certain way,’” Mr Slavitt writes. “I had the most important information I needed.”
At the start of the pandemic, Dr Birx was one of Mr Trump’s most visible advisers on the crisis. As the White House Coronavirus response coordinator, she often spoke alongside Dr Anthony Fauci at the president’s Covid-19 briefings, and was present when Mr Trump suggested people inject themselves with disinfectant.
By the summer of 2020, however, she had fallen out of Mr Trump’s favor. On 10 August, the former president replaced her with Dr Scott Atlas, a radiologist with no epidemiological experience whom he had seen on Fox News.
“Fighting the virus and Scott Atlas together is the hardest thing I’ve had to do,” Dr Birx reportedly said at the Minnesota meeting.
According to Mr Slavitt, Dr Birx told him she had been “completely silenced” by that time, barred by Mr Trump from appearing on national news media.
“Her early optimism was long gone,” Mr Slavitt writes.
Locked out of her national platform, Dr Birx toured the country giving detailed Covid data to local officials in person. It was at one of those meetings that she spoke to Mr Slavitt.
As the summer dragged on, Preventable says, the doctor’s outlook went from bad to worse.
“At the end of October 2020, she was beyond all of that; she was downright scared,” Mr Slavitt writes.
On 20 January, when Mr Biden took office, Dr Birx retired from her government post. Since then, she has said she considered quitting her White House job many times.
“I mean, why would you want to put yourself through that every day?” she told Face the Nation.