Trump official overseeing pandemic readiness exits

Trump official overseeing pandemic readiness exits
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A top official who would lead the U.S. response if a deadly pandemic broke out has left the administration amid a broad reorganization of the national security team, The Washington Post reported Thursday.

Rear Adm. Timothy Ziemer left the National Security Council (NSC) this week, and national security adviser John Bolton dissolved the global health security team that Ziemer oversaw.

The Post reported that Ziemer will not be replaced, and that his departure means that there is no single official at the highest levels of the administration who focuses only on global health security.

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NSC spokesman Robert Palladino told the Post that the Trump administration “remains committed to global health, global health security and biodefense, and will continue to address these issues with the same resolve under the new structure.”

Ziemer’s departure from the NSC is the latest since Bolton joined the administration last month. Four senior aides left or resigned under pressure from the council during Bolton’s first week on the job.

Bolton has said he wants to restructure the NSC.

Two members of Ziemer’s global health team are now working in a unit overseeing weapons of mass destruction and another joined a unit on international organizations, the Post reported.

White House homeland security adviser Tom Bossert, who called for a thorough strategy to combat pandemics, left the administration the day after Bolton starting serving in the post.

The Post noted that Ziemer departed the same day that a new Ebola outbreak was identified in Congo.

And the Trump administration included more than $250 million in unused funds from the Ebola epidemic in 2014 and 2015 in a rescissions package released this week.