Ex-Biden COVID Advisor Andy Slavitt Says Trump Committed 'Deadly Sins' in Pandemic Response

Andy Slavitt, who served until last week as a senior advisor to President Joe Biden on COVID-19, strongly criticized former President Donald Trump's response to the pandemic, arguing he had committed "deadly sins."

The businessman, who previously served as the acting administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services under former President Barack Obama, stepped down from his White House role as senior advisor to the COVID-19 response coordinator on Wednesday. Slavitt's position had been intended to be short-term and his departure was expected.

During a Sunday interview with CBS News' Face the Nation, the former Biden advisor was asked about Trump's handling of the pandemic.

"There were three I think—I think deadly sins that the Trump administration made that played out. The first was his power that he believed to deny the very existence of the virus or the potency of it, and to get his followers to go along with it," Slavitt said.

He went on to say that the other two "deadly sins" were Trump's "quashing of dissent" and "taking the divisions in the country and playing into them."

Andy Slavitt
In this screenshot, former Biden adviser Andy Slavitt argues that former President Donald Trump committed "deadly sins" with his administration's response to the COVID-19 pandemic on CBS News' Face the Nation on June 13. Screenshot/CBS News

"They sent out orders to the Department of Health and Human Services for 45 days they were not even allowed to talk to the press simply because [former Secretary of Health and Human Services] Alex Azar wanted to say the expression that things were going fine but could change rapidly," Slavitt said.

He also said Trump "played into" the anti-mask views of his supporters.

"I think that sort of the populist nature—being a populist during a pandemic is really not a great combination because you're going to have to make some tough decisions. You're going to have to make people unhappy," he said.

Trump was widely criticized by Democrats and public health experts throughout the pandemic. The former president repeatedly promoted unproven treatments for COVID-19 and spread doubt about the effectiveness of masks at preventing the spread of the pandemic. He also readily disregarded his administration's own public health guidance about social distancing on numerous occasions, even after he and many other White House officials contracted the novel virus.

The former president and his supporters have defended his response to the pandemic, however. They have pointed to the success of Operation Warp Speed, which provided substantial funding for rapid vaccine development. Trump has touted the vaccines as a signature achievement, urging his voters to get the jab even as many remain hesitant or opposed to vaccines.

Newsweek reached out to Trump's office for comment on Slavitt's remarks, but did not immediately receive a response.

The U.S. continues to have the highest total number of recorded COVID-19 infections of any nation in the world. As of Sunday afternoon, the U.S. has confirmed more than 33.4 million infections since the start of the pandemic. It also has recorded the highest number of deaths of any country, with nearly 600,000 reported in total.