“Trump had privately expressed frustration over Azar’s lack of communication on key issues as the head of the White House coronavirus task force.”
(CNN) White House officials are discussing plans to replace Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar following a spate of criticism over the early federal response to the coronavirus, a senior administration official confirmed.
Any move to replace Azar would be contingent on President Donald Trump deciding to move forward, and there is currently little appetite inside the White House for a big shakeup.
The official stressed that nothing is imminent, but there are discussions underway at the White House about replacing Azar.
The discussions come after Trump appointed Vice President Mike Pence, rather than Azar, as the White House’s point man for coronavirus response.
Azar has also been at odds with Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma, an ally of Pence’s from Indiana who has been involved in the coronavirus task force briefings.
As the coronavirus spreads across the nation, the Trump administration has been criticized for its handling of the pandemic, namely by governors, on both sides of the aisle, in desperate need of critical supplies.
As of Saturday, more than 50,000 Americans have died from the virus and the number of cases is nearing 1 million.
In a statement Saturday night, deputy White House secretary Judd Deere said:
“The Department of Health and Human Services, under the leadership of Secretary Azar, continues to lead on a number of the President’s priorities. Any speculation about personnel is irresponsible and a distraction from our whole-of-government response to COVID-19.”
“Secretary Azar is busy responding to a global, public health crisis and doesn’t have time for palace intrigue,” HHS spokeswoman Caitlin Oakley said in response to the reports … Read more.