Reports suggesting the White House is planning on firing members of its coronavirus task force — including Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar — seem to be getting under the skin of one presidential adviser.
According to the Washington Examiner, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway has rebuked rumors of White House staffing changes, calling them “disappointing” in a Saturday interview.
Conway weighs in
Conway’s comments came during an appearance by the White House adviser on Fox News’ Justice with Judge Jeanine, where Conway was asked to respond to a recent Wall Street Journal report that claimed that Azar was on the hot seat, the Examiner reported.
“Administration officials are discussing replacing Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar following criticism of his management of the early response to the coronavirus pandemic,” the Journal report reads, citing “six people familiar with the discussions.” But according to Conway, those half-dozen sources got it all wrong.
“What I find curious and a bit disappointing is every time I read a story about a personnel change these days, it has to do with somebody who has oversight over the pandemic,” Conway told Fox, referring to claims not only about Azar, but also top administration medical advisers like Drs. Anthony Fauci and Deborah Birx, according to the Examiner.
“It’s very unfortunate to me that you have some people wishing or willing that Dr. Fauci will be silent, or Dr. Birx will quit, and they will no longer be around, or the secretary of the HHS will be replaced in the middle of this president dealing with a global pandemic,” she added, according to the Examiner.
Take a look at her full interview, courtesy of Fox News:
The Journal article followed another report by The New York Times earlier this month claiming that President Donald Trump failed to act on weeks worth of warnings about the coronavirus, including from Azar. President Trump, however, responded with a tweet calling the story “fake” and claiming that Azar “told me nothing until later,” the Examiner reported separately.
Soon after the Journal‘s report was published, White House Deputy Press Secretary Judd Deere issued a statement denying any rumors of Azar’s impending ouster.
“The Department of Health and Human Services, under the leadership of Secretary Azar, continues to lead on a number of the president’s priorities,” the statement reads, according to the Examiner. “Any speculation about personnel is irresponsible and a distraction from our whole-of-government response to COVID-19.”
Looks like Azar’s job is safe — at least for now.