Shortly after Trump heard the news Monday, he demanded Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar “get to the bottom” of what happened with Pfizer, according to a senior White House official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the president’s actions.
A few hours later, the issue was front and center at a meeting of the White House coronavirus task force when FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn briefed members about the vaccine data.
The meeting agenda that day had been drafted so Hahn could walk members through the vaccine approval process, a senior administration official said. Hahn said the timing was the sole result of independent decisions made by Pfizer on collecting and reviewing the information, according to three senior administration officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe internal affairs.
Azar, Hahn’s boss, pointedly contradicted Hahn in front of Vice President Pence, asserting that the FDA’s actions had in fact contributed to a delay in Pfizer’s announcement. He also asked questions that some officials thought suggested Azar believed Pfizer’s timing was affected by political motivations.