The White House is considering a massive overhaul at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as the Trump administration tries to pin the blame on the agency for the bungled U.S. response to the coronavirus pandemic, according to a report.
The CDC would undergo a performance review, multiple senior administration officials told Politico. The audit would likely highlight several failures, such as the inability to deploy working tests in the early months of the pandemic.
White House staffers have discussed narrowing the CDC’s mission or adding political appointees, Politico said.
The goal, one official said, would be to make the agency more “nimble” and “responsive,” according to Politico.
Over the last few months, President Donald Trump has been trying to deflect criticism of his response to the outbreak and could be looking for an entity beyond China to blame.
Since the outbreak began, Trump’s relationship with the CDC has been contentious. He initially dismissed alarms from agency officials.
In May, Trump ignored guidance issued by the CDC on how to safely reopen businesses.
Top politicians including former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive 2020 Democratic presidential nominee, have been critical of Trump’s handling of the crisis.
The White House declined to comment on the Politico report, and the CDC and Department of Health and Human Services did not immediately return CNBC requests for comment.
The CDC has long been regarded as a top-tier health agency around the world, but the pandemic has intensified scrutiny of its operations.
The outbreak has spread to dozens of countries, with more than 9.1 million confirmed cases worldwide and over 472,541 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. The U.S. has had at least 2.3 million cases and 120,402 deaths, according to the latest tallies.