HHS lawyer warns Trump’s vaccine discount for seniors could be illegal: report

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A top lawyer at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is warning that President Trump’s plans to provide a discount on a coronavirus vaccine once it is ready could violate federal election law, according to a new report. 

In an internal memo circulated this week, HHS general counsel Robert Charrow told aides that Trump’s plan could open up the federal government and the Trump campaign to legal troubles, several sources told Politico.

Charrow also encouraged HHS officials to seek clearance from the Department of Justice (DOJ) to proceed with the plan, which is currently pending a review from DOJ’s public integrity division, the outlet reported. 

Separately on Friday during a campaign rally in Florida, Trump announced a different plan that would expedite delivery of a vaccine to seniors.

“I am deeply aware that America’s 54 million seniors have borne the heaviest burden of the China virus,” Trump said. “Many older Americans have endured months of isolation, missing weddings, birthdays, graduations, church and family reunions. My message to America’s seniors today is one of optimism, confidence and hope. Your sacrifice has not been in vain. The light at the end of the tunnel is near. We are rounding the turn.”

There is currently no vaccine for the coronavirus, and The Hill reported Friday the proposed plan would create a partnership between the federal government, Walgreens and CVS to prioritize vaccine distribution to seniors once one is made available. 

“This is an adjunct to what other solutions may be, but this will be something that will be available to every nursing home and senior living facility in the country,” Paul Mango, HHS deputy chief of staff for policy, said on a call with reporters, The Hill reported.

With less than three weeks until Election Day, Trump has sought to paint his response to the pandemic as strong and effective while suggesting Democratic nominee Joe Biden has no plan for protecting public safety and rebuilding the economy. 

Tags Coronavirus coronavirus vaccine COVID-19 Donald Trump Joe Biden

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