White House won't rule out Ebola 'czar'

The Obama administration isn’t ruling out appointing a “czar” to lead the U.S. response to the Ebola virus.

Pressed by Republicans to appoint an “Ebola czar,” the administration has so far said it has the people in place to respond to the health crisis. 


White House press secretary Josh Earnest defended the administration’s response, arguing it has “a very clean line of responsibility.”

Asked directly if an Ebola czar was needed, he said officials across the government know what their responsibilities are, and that there is a “structure in place” to handle the public health crisis.

“There are a lot of agencies that are involved,” Earnest said. “Lisa Monaco is the president’s homeland security adviser and she is the one that, from here at the White House, continues to play the role of coordinating the efforts of all of those agencies. But ultimately each of those agencies understands exactly what they are responsible for and they have experts in this field that can ensure that the American people remain safe.”

On Sunday, Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainBill Maher delivers mock eulogy for Trump Hillary Clinton roasts NYT's Maureen Dowd over column CNN's Ana Navarro to host Biden roundtable on making 'Trump a one-term president' MORE (R-Ariz.) said there should be “some kind of czar” because a central figure could help reassure Americans.

“There has to be more reassurance given to them,” McCain told CNN. “I would say that we don't know exactly who's in charge. There has to be some kind of czar.”

The administration has appointed various czars in the past, including on cybersecurity and in response to the auto crisis. It has at times come under criticism from Republicans for appointing czars.

Separately, the White House signaled support for CDC Director Tom Frieden, who has faced criticism after a nurse treating the first U.S. Ebola patient caught the virus. Critics have seized on Frieden's repeated assurances that the agency knows “how to stop Ebola.”

Earnest called Frieden a “preeminent physician” and praised his experience dealing with public health crises.