Trump Denies He May Fire HHS Secretary Alex Azar, Rips ‘Lamestream Media’

Written by Martin Walsh

OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion

Another day, another round of fake news that President Donald Trump has to correct.

The president took to Twitter on Sunday to deny a report that he may fire Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar.

“More Reports that H.H.S. Secretary @Alex Azar is going to be ‘fired’ by me are Fake News. The Lamestream Media knows this, but they are desperate to create the perception of chaos & havoc in the minds of the public. They never even called to ask. Alex is doing an excellent job!” he wrote.

Last week, Politico reported that several people confirmed to them that there were “continuing discussions” about plans to oust Azar from his position.

The report alleged that the White House was not happy with Azar’s handling of the ouster of vaccine expert Rick Bright, as well as turmoil at the agency.

Politico also reported that other officials are also upset at media reports that said Azar urged Trump to act on the coronavirus outbreak in January, but that the president disregarded his warnings.

“Among the names on the short list to replace Azar are White House coronavirus coordinator Deborah Birx, Medicare chief Seema Verma and deputy HHS Secretary Eric Hargan, said the four people familiar with the talks,” Politico reported.

Other administration officials have also slammed the report as fake news.

Trump’s statement followed a similar denial from White House spokesman Judd Deere, who said, “The Department of Health and Human Services, under the leadership of Secretary Azar, continues to lead on a number of the President’s priorities. Any speculation about personnel is irresponsible and a distraction from our whole-of-government response to COVID-19.”

An HHS spokesperson said that “Secretary Azar is busy responding to a global, public health crisis and doesn’t have time for palace intrigue,” and that he had not had any recent discussions about the possibility of his departure.

The report also came around the same time that Congress finally passed another round of financial relief for Americans as the coronavirus has brought the U.S. economy to a grinding halt.

Last week, Congress finally cleared a new small-business and healthcare spending package that will provide $484 billion in funding that responds to the impact of the coronavirus.

The measure provides $310 billion to replenish a newly created small-business aid program, $75 billion for healthcare facilities, $25 billion to increased coronavirus testing, and $60 billion for an economic disaster-relief program.

This also comes as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Democrats are going after Trump again.

After Democratic California Rep. Adam Schiff suggested she do so, Pelosi launched a new select committee to investigate the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.