Donald Trump has made himself “vulnerable to fake news” by not adequately staffing the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, according to a letter sent to the president by members of the House Committee on Science, Space & Technology.
The letter — signed by House representatives including Don Beyer (R-VA), Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) and Mark Takano (D-CA) — urges the president to quickly appoint a qualified candidate to head the OSTP. The OSTP is responsible for advising the president on policies that affect science and technology. In the past, it has provided guidance on potential pandemics and called for open government initiatives.
“Disseminating stories from dubious sources has been a recurring problem with your administration,” the letter states. It cites a recent Politico story about Trump receiving false information on climate change, as well Trump’s claims of voter fraud and his assertion that Obama wiretapped him — claims rejected by then-FBI director James B. Comey. It is therefore critical to appoint a well-qualified OSTP director that “represents the views of the broader scientific community,” the letter continues, lest the president continue to believe widespread misinformation.
This is far from the first rebuke Trump has received when it comes to science. The president has called climate change a “Chinese hoax,” silenced government scientists with gag orders, and suggested a budget that would be very bad for scientific research. Such actions spurred concern among the scientific community, as well as April’s March for Science.