Former U.S. Acting Surgeon Gen. Reacts to Bright Testimony

Rick Bright, the ousted director of a crucial agency looking for a vaccine for COVID-19, testified today before Congress. He says he was dismissed for blowing the whistle on the Trump administration’s response to the outbreak. To react to his testimony, Christiane speaks with Dr. Boris Lushniak, former U.S. Acting Surgeon General.

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CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: Tell me what you think of the fact that Rick Bright went before this committee and testified and talked about, you know, a very dark winter ahead. As I said, he sort of described a road map to dysfunction, a lack of coordination. What do you make, just from the outset, of what he told Congress today?

DR. BORIS LUSHNIAK, FORMER U.S. ACTING SURGEON GENERAL: Well, you know, first of all, having watched part of his testimony today and reading a good part of his whistle-blower complaint that he put in, a lot of disturbing components to this. First and foremost is that the agency, the authority that he was in charge of, the Biomedical Advance Research and Development has a key component. And I — when I was in a position as an assistant commissioner for counterterrorism policy at the Food and Drug Administration, worked closely with this authority. Their key job is to do what? Is to make sure that countermeasures against emerging threats, such as pandemics against biothreats, right, in the world of terrorism that they`re studied, they`re looked at, and ultimately invested in. And what I heard in today`s testimony is what? Is that there are allegations from him of interference in the scientific process, first and foremost, right? The idea that political influence, the idea that business influence may have played a role in terms of trying to make the decisions that needed to be made on scientific merit. The second component of today`s testimony, I think, that was very disturbing was the fact that he — again, he presents it that he was out there early in January talking about the shortages that needed to be taken care of and that he was not listened to. So, this was very concerning to me.

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Christiane speaks with former Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf about the importance of international unity in fighting a virus. She also speaks with European Commissioner for Economy Paolo Gentiloni about whether Europe should open for the summer and Dr. Boris Lushniak, former U.S. Acting Surgeon General. Walter Isaacson speaks with Sarah Lewis about the power of photography.