Immunology professor Steven Hatfill, 67, was an advisor to White House Trade director Peter Navarro at the time of the emails
A virologist on Donald Trump’s COVID-19 response team said the virus had taken a ‘backseat’ to the 2020 election and later added that he was ‘shifted’ to promote the president’s claims of election fraud as cases soared last winter.
Steven Hatfill, a professor at George Washington University who advised White House trade director Peter Navarro, made the remarks in emails obtained by a House select subcommittee investigating the government’s COVID response.
‘Now with the elections so close, COVID is taking a back-seat, yet the disease is rearing it[s] ugly head again,’ Hatfill wrote to an outside colleague in October 2020.
After the election, he wrote that he ‘shifted over to the election fraud investigation in November’ as Trump continued to argue that the election was stolen from him in 2020, a claim that fueled the January 6 Capitol riot by his supporters.
In the days after the election, the US was averaging over 1,000 deaths a day from COVID, a winter surge that would end in a daily average of 3,600 deaths by January, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Hatfill ‘shifted over to the election fraud investigation’ in November 2020 after President Trump refused to accept the results. Above, Trump at a campaign rally in March 2020
At the time, COVID-19 cases in the US were on the rise amid a winter surge
Meanwhile, Trump and his team of lawyers were on the offensive, refusing to concede the election to Joe Biden and urging state election officials to ‘find’ votes that he said were meant for him.
When a GW colleague asked Hatfill why he wasn’t ‘fixing the virus,’ he responded: ‘Because the election thing got out of control. I go where my team goes,’ citing his efforts to help challenge the outcome of the election in Nevada, according to emails obtained by the Washington Post.
Hatfill defended his role in election-era spin in a statement to the newspaper.
‘From my perspective as a Doctor, I was, and continue to be, frustrated with public health being treated as a political football.
‘Moreover, I was disgusted with the destruction of the National Pandemic Plan at the hands of conflicted petty bureaucrats; a plan that focused on early treatment and community outreach, rather than experimental vaccines and panic,’ Hatfill added, referring to hydroxychloroquine.
‘I was asked to serve in the Executive Office of the President of the United States in a time of extreme crisis. I accepted this call without reservation, and would do so again, regardless of the political affiliation of the Executive Branch.’
Hatfill, left, gained prominence after he was wrongly accused of perpetrating the 2001 anthrax mail attacks that killed five people. The DOJ eventually settled with him for over $5 million
Hatfill, 67, first gained prominence after he was wrongly accused of taking part in the 2001 anthrax attacks, where letters containing spores of the deadly bacteria were sent to media outlets and lawmakers, killing five and infecting 17 people.
His home was raided by the FBI and his phone was tapped. He sued The Justice Department, which eventually settled the lawsuit and paid him $2.825 million in cash and an annuity of $150,000 a year for 20 years, according to the New York Times.
‘”Person of Interest” to WH advisor in 20-years,’ Hatfill wrote in a February 2020 email exchange where he said he ‘helped draft a memo for big D last night.’
‘Only in America LOL.’
Hatfill routinely bragged about his role and his proximity to high-powered government officials, according to the emails.
‘They fly me around sometimes on private jets to sort s*** out. Seeing the good and the bad and what needs to be fixed,’ he wrote in a June 2020 email.
‘I actually lost it and told Fauci he was full of crap a couple weeks ago,’ Hatfill wrote in a September 3, 2020 about Dr. Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases who is now Biden’s chief medical advisor.
Hatfill also seemed to promote the President Trump’s COVID drug of choice: hydroxycloroquine.
‘The President has been grossly misadvised by the COVID Task Force on the proper pandemic response to COVID-19,’ Hatfill wrote in a September 22, 2020, letter to then-Chief of Staff Mark Meadows.
He then listed alternate recommendations including hydroxychloroquine. The anti-malaria drug’s benefits ‘do not outweigh their risks,’ according to the CDC.
On Thursday, the Democratic-led House subcommittee that the emails were meant for issued a subpoena demanding that Hatfill turn over documents first requested in April.
‘Dr. Hatfill has refused to provide documents and misleadingly downplayed his involvement in the pandemic response in communications with Select Subcommittee staff,’ House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn of South Carolina, who chairs the subcommittee, wrote in a memo to colleagues obtained by the Washington Post.