Carson on coronavirus: Task force is not ‘sugarcoating’ messaging

Greg Nash

Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson, a member of the administration’s coronavirus task force, told House members Wednesday the administration is not “sugarcoating” coronavirus messaging. 

Carson’s statement regarding the coronavirus and the administration’s task force came during a House Appropriations subcommittee hearing to discuss the HUD budget.

During the hearing, Carson was questioned by Appropriations subcommittee on housing and urban development Chairman David Price (D-N.C.) who asked, “Can you assure us that you and the task force will be supporting the recommendations of public health professionals and ensure that our public response and public communication about the response are based on the facts and science?”

Carson responded, saying, “We want to make sure it’s completely transparent, it’s not sugar-coated, it’s not used in any way as a political tool.” 

The line of question comes as concerns over messaging have risen due to the administration’s characterization of the virus that, at times, differs from the scientific community. 

Last week, president Trump announced that Vice President Pence would be leading the task force, drawing criticism from Democrats who feel his experience is inadequate. Pence’s office is managing communication and media inquiries for the task force as well.

Wednesday was not the first time Democrats took advantage of an unrelated hearing to press the administration on its response to the virus.

At a hearing about U.S. strategy in Iran, Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) confronted Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, asking him if he believes “the coronavirus is a hoax.”

“Donald Trump’s chief of staff Mick Mulvaney told the Conservative Political Action Conference [CPAC] that the coronavirus was the hoax of the day,” Lieu said. “Do you agree with Donald Trump’s chief of staff Mulvaney that the coronavirus is the hoax of the day?”

Pompeo refused to answer the question, stating he is not “going to comment on what others are saying,” calling Lieu’s question “not useful.”

Lieu went on to call it “shameful” that Pompeo wouldn’t say coronavirus is not a hoax, while scolding Pompeo for attending CPAC later in the day.

Tags Ben Carson David Price Donald Trump Mick Mulvaney Mike Pence Mike Pompeo Ted Lieu

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