Administration officials are discussing replacing Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar following criticism of his management of the early response to the coronavirus pandemic, according to six people familiar with the discussions.
It remains unclear if Azar will be ousted and in what timeline that might occur. Administration officials said the White House is hesitant to shake up the leadership of HHS during a pandemic, though they acknowledged that frustration with the secretary has been growing in recent weeks.
President Donald Trump is prone to unexpected staffing moves and dismissals, so the decision could still go either way. But people familiar with the discussions say they have accelerated in recent days with a far more serious tone, amid mounting criticism about Azar’s leadership, including a report in The Wall Street Journal detailing his early missteps in the coronavirus response.
The president has publicly indicated his own frustrations with Azar, tweeting earlier this month in response to reports that Trump didn’t act early enough to respond to coronavirus that Azar “told me nothing until later.” In a tweet on Sunday, Trump said reports that Azar would be fired were “fake news.” He said the secretary was doing an “excellent job.”
An expanded version of this report appears on WSJ.com:
Also popular on WSJ.com:
The forces fueling the oil bust of 2020
Could the coronavirus have been in California since the fall?