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