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CDC director pushes back on Caputo claim of 'resistance unit' at agency

CDC director pushes back on Caputo claim of 'resistance unit' at agency
© Bloomberg/Pool

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Robert RedfieldRobert RedfieldFauci defends Birx: 'She had to live in the White House' US considering mandatory COVID-19 tests for domestic flyers, CDC official says CDC gets a second opinion: Seven steps to heal our COVID-19 response MORE on Wednesday defended his agency from claims by a top health department official that there is a "resistance unit" plotting against President TrumpDonald TrumpBiden to hold virtual bilateral meeting with Mexican president More than 300 charged in connection to Capitol riot Trump Jr.: There are 'plenty' of GOP incumbents who should be challenged MORE in the CDC.

Redfield was asked at a Senate hearing about an extraordinary Facebook Live video streamed Sunday where the Department of Health and Human Service's (HHS) top spokesman, Michael Caputo, said career scientists are plotting against the president and encouraged Trump supporters to arm themselves ahead of the election.

"The spokesperson for HHS claimed that there is a resistance unit at CDC and voiced concerns about ulterior deep state motives, and President Trump has bolstered skepticism in the agency's death toll, do you agree with me that there is no truth to all those claims?" asked Sen. Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayOvernight Health Care: 50 million coronavirus vaccines given | Pfizer news | Biden health nominees Rand Paul criticized for questioning of transgender health nominee Biden health nominee faces first Senate test MORE (D-Wash.).

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"Absolutely senator, and I want to make a comment that not only is it not true, it deeply saddened me when I read those comments, because as I said in my statement, CDC is made up of thousands of dedicated men and women, highly competent, it is the premier public health agency in the world," Redfield said.

"It deeply saddened me that those false accusations were made [about] a group of really unbelievably professional people that serve this nation," he added.

Politico also reported last week that Caputo and his communications team have sought to edit some of CDC's premier scientific reports, known as the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports (MMWR).

Redfield, speaking generally, said: "At no time has the scientific integrity of the MMWR been compromised and I can say that under my watch it will not be compromised."

Trump also provoked a firestorm by telling journalist Bob Woodward during a series of interviews conducted earlier in the year that he purposely downplayed the virus.

Asked if he advised the president to downplay the virus, Redfield said, "No."

When asked if he agreed with the president downplaying the virus, Redfield said: "I'm not going to comment on that."