President-elect Joe Biden announced Tuesday he will select Pennsylvania Health Secretary Rachel Levine to be his assistant secretary of health. If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, she will become the first openly transgender federal official.
“Dr. Rachel Levine will bring the steady leadership and essential expertise we need to get people through this pandemic — no matter their zip code, race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability — and meet the public health needs of our country in this critical moment and beyond,” Biden said in a statement. “She is a historic and deeply qualified choice to help lead our administration’s health efforts.”
PA Gov. Tom Wolf (D) first appointed Levine as Pennsylvania’s physician general — the state’s top doctor — in 2015. Levine was appointed by Wolf in 2017 as acting health secretary. She was confirmed three times by the state Senate to serve as secretary of health and the state’s physician general.
In 2020, Levine became the public face of the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Levine came under scrutiny in May 2020 for removing her 95-year-old mother from a personal care home amid a statewide coronavirus outbreak and transitioning her to another location.
Many criticized her for this decision, including York County state Rep. Seth Grove (R), saying that she’s done what many families are unable to do for financial or logistical reasons.
Shortly after this incident, Levine announced that she would begin testing every nursing home resident and staff member for coronavirus, a massive undertaking.
Some lawmakers called for the immediate resignation or removal of Levine from her position.
PA rep. Russ Diamond (R) cited “the horrific results of the department’s COVID-19 policy” in regard to the number of cases and deaths that occurred in nursing homes and other facilities under the department’s oversight. He introduced a resolution for her resignation.
PA state Sen. Doug Mastriano (R), also called for Levine’s resignation, saying she committed the equivalent of policy malpractice in her handling of the coronavirus pandemic and its spread through nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.
Still, Gov. Wolf defended Levine, saying, “My assessment of Dr. Levine is that she is doing a phenomenal job, and I think we’ve got to be careful about blaming the messenger for the message.”
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Videotapes from Jan. 6 Committee Witness Interviews Vanish
Videotapes containing witness interviews conducted by the Democrat-led January 6 congressional committee have disappeared. The chairman of the House Administration oversight subcommittee, Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-Ga.), expressed his apprehension on the “Just the News, No Noise” television show.
According to Loudermilk, all videotapes of depositions have vanished, raising questions about the preservation of crucial evidence. He argued that, under House rules, these tapes qualified as congressional evidence, especially since some clips were aired during hearings. Loudermilk contended that the tapes should have been preserved by the now-defunct Jan. 6 committee and its chairman, Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.).
Loudermilk’s revelation has broader implications, potentially impacting criminal trials in both state court in Georgia and federal court in Washington, where individuals, including former President Donald Trump, face charges related to the Capitol riot on Jan. 6, 2021. Notably, Trump’s legal team had recently requested evidence from the Jan. 6 committee but was denied by a judge.
The situation takes a further twist as Loudermilk disclosed that the J6 committee had sent certain evidence, such as transcripts, to the Biden White House and the Homeland Security Department. Shockingly, these transcripts have now been returned to Loudermilk’s GOP-led subcommittee almost entirely redacted, preventing the disclosure of their contents.
The lack of records regarding witnesses, their statements, and the extensive redactions have raised concerns among House Republicans. Loudermilk emphasized that these documents belong to the House and should not have been sent in such a heavily redacted form. The chairman questioned the motives behind the redactions, asking why a Democrat-run House was allowed to have unredacted documents while a Republican committee’s efforts were obstructed. This development adds another layer of complexity to the ongoing investigations into the events surrounding January 6, 2021.
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