- The Trump administration continually prioritized challenging the 2020 election results over responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- This is according to emails sent by Steven Hatfill, a virologist who worked on the Trump White House's COVID response.
- The emails were obtained by a House Select Subcommittee probing the government's COVID-19 response.
- See more stories on Insider's business page.
The Trump administration reportedly prioritized former President Donald Trump's attempts to challenge the election over fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, according to new documents from a House Select Subcommittee investigation.
Emails from Steven Hatfill, a virologist who advised White House trade director Peter Navarro were obtained by the House Select Subcommittee that is now probing the US government's response to the COVID-19 pandemic and shared with The Washington Post.
Hatfill's correspondence repeatedly references working on election issues over pandemic response.
For instance, in response to a January 5 email sent by a colleague at the George Washington University asking why he was not "fixing the virus," Hatfill said it was because of the dispute over the election results.
"Because the election thing got out of control. I go where my team goes," Hatfill wrote in his reply.
Hatfill also wrote in emails that he shifted his focus from the pandemic response over to the election fraud investigation in November, writing in his correspondence that he was working on "the election stuff."
This included traveling to Arizona, emailing White House officials on a Dominion Voting Systems conspiracy theory, and forwarding Navarro an email regarding a "Plan B for Trump Legal Fight" intended "For Rudy" - which could refer to Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani.
There is no evidence of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election. Judges have ruled resoundingly against the Trump camp's lawsuits alleging voter fraud in states like Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, and Pennsylvania.
But according to Hatfill's emails, the Trump administration's COVID-19 response was already taking a "back-seat" in the fall of 2020.
"Now with the elections so close, COVID is taking a back-seat, yet the disease is rearing its ugly head again," Hatfill wrote in an email to an unnamed colleague in October in an email seen by the House Subcommittee.
"Throughout the months of November and December 2020, the pandemic continued to worsen in the United States-with more than 11 million new cases and 132,770 deaths in those two months alone," wrote James Clyburn, chairman of the COVID-19 House Select Subcommittee in a September 23 memorandum.
"The Select Subcommittee seeks to understand whether the Trump White House officials working on the pandemic response diverted their efforts from the coronavirus response to invalidating the 2020 election, contributing to one of the greatest failures of leadership in United States history," Clyburn wrote.
Clyburn added that nearly 200,000 Americans lost their lives to COVID-19 between Election Day and Inauguration Day.
Hatfill responded to The Washington Post's queries on the subcommittee's investigation in a statement, writing: "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 in his statement to The Post.
"In truth, we do not have a clue how many are infected in the USA. We are expecting the first wave to spread in the US within the next seven days," Hatfill wrote to Navarro on February 29.
Hatfield was among the first voices to sound the alarm about the pandemic. In a February 2020 email to Navarro first reported on by The Hill, he told his boss that the coronavirus should be treated with "frank honesty about the situation and decisive, direct actions that are being taken and can be seen in the broadcast news."
He recommended increased coronavirus testing and suggested that the National Guard help with the distribution of tests. However, Hatfill's recommendation, which was passed on to Trump by Navarro, was not taken.
Hatfill did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Insider.