January 26, 2021

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Controversial Trump adviser Dr. Scott Atlas resigned from the White House COVID-19 task force



a man wearing a suit and tie: Scott Atlas listens to US President Donald Trump during a briefing at the White House August 10, 2020, in Washington, DC. BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty


© BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty
Scott Atlas listens to US President Donald Trump during a briefing at the White House August 10, 2020, in Washington, DC. BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty

  • Dr. Scott Atlas, who served as a special adviser to President Donald Trump on the coronavirus, resigned from the White House COVID-19 task force Monday.
  • Atlas, who joined the task force in August, was a Special Government Employee (SGE), meaning his role in the task force was temporary and would not exceed 130 days.
  • Atlas’ push to reopen the US has sparked backlash from critics, including top US infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci and CDC director Robert Redfield.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Dr. Scott Atlas, who served as a special adviser to President Donald Trump on the coronavirus, resigned from the White House COVID-19 task force on Monday.

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Atlas, who joined the task force in August, was a Special Government Employee (SGE), meaning his role in the task force was temporary and would not exceed 130 days. His tenure was set to expire this week, according to the Fox News report. The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The White House confirmed Atlas’ resignation but declined to comment.

“I am writing to resign from my position as Special Advisor to the President of the United States,” Atlas wrote in a resignation letter obtained by Fox News.

“As time went on, like all scientists and health policy scholars, I learned new information and synthesized the latest data from around the world, all in an effort to provide you with the best information to serve the greater public good,” he continued.

“But, perhaps more than anything, my advice was always focused on minimizing all the harms from both the pandemic and the structural policies themselves, especially to the working class and the poor,” he wrote, according to Fox News.

In the letter, Atlas touted the work of the COVID-19 task force alongside his “several selfless colleagues in designing specific policies to heighten protection of the vulnerable while safely reopening schools and society.”

“We also successfully designed rational guidelines for safely opening schools, a strategic use of the newly developed testing program, and a national stockpile of drugs for future crises,” Atlas wrote.

Earlier this month, Atlas slammed stay-at-home orders during an appearance on a Russian propaganda outlet, saying “lockdowns will go down as an epic failure of public policy” and that they “are killing people.” A tweet from Atlas casting doubt on the efficacy of masks was removed from the social media platform last month.

“Twitter seems to be censoring the science if it goes against their own goals of public indoctrination,” Atlas said in response at the time.

Atlas’ controversial advice — including his push against states’ lockdowns and mask mandates — sparked backlash from critics.

Atlas sparred with top US infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci over the production of a COVID-19 vaccine, calling Fauci a “political animal” for his “upbeat” tone on the pandemic following Election Day.

“There’s all kinds of prognostications that were made, all negative, all to undermine what the reality of the timelines were, all to undermine the president,” Atlas said during an interview with Fox News host Laura Ingraham. “Once you do that sort of thing and make yourself a political animal basically, you lose your credibility.”

“Well maybe he’s cheered up because of the election,” he added.

Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, was reportedly overheard saying “everything” Atlas said “is false.”

“I think a lot of the criticism stems from people who are either politically motivated or are interested in maintaining their own stature in the public eye,” Atlas told Business Insider’s Ashley Collman in October.

In his resignation letter, which is dated December 1, Atlas congratulated the work of the team behind Operation Warp Speed, saying the team “delivered on our promised timelines for new drugs and vaccines.”

“I congratulate you for your vision, and also congratulate the many who did the exemplary work—we know who they are, even though their names are not those familiar to the public,” Atlas wrote.

He also gave his best wishes to the incoming Biden-Harris administration “as they guide the nation through these trying, polarized times.”

“With the emerging treatments and vaccines, I remain highly optimistic that America will thrive once again and overcome the adversity of the pandemic and all that it has entailed,” Atlas wrote.

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