Senate Democrats are demanding answers about the demotion of Rick Bright, a federal vaccine scientist who was recently removed from his office. 

Bright’s lawyers. have filed a whistleblower complaint claiming that his ouster came after he refused to endorse the drug chloroquine as a treatment for COVID-19 as President Donald Trump had suggested.

Bright was removed last week as director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), a federal office under the Health and Human Services Department (HHS).

Sen. Patty Murray (D-Washington) sent a letter to HHS Secretary Alex Azar on Thursday demanding details about the decision.

“I am speaking out because to combat this deadly virus, science — not politics or cronyism — has to lead the way,” Bright said in a statement.

Hours after Bright made his statement, HHS denied his claim.

“It was Dr. Bright who requested an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for donations of chloroquine that Bayer and Sandoz recently made to the Strategic National Stockpile for use on COVID-19 patients,” HHS spokeswoman Caitlin Oakley said.

In response, Bright’s lawyers claimed that “the administration is now making demonstrably false statements about Dr. Bright.”

“In our filing, we will make clear that Dr. Bright was sidelined for one reason only — because he resisted efforts to provide unfettered access to potentially dangerous drugs, including chloroquine, a drug promoted by the Administration as a panacea, but which is untested and possibly deadly when used improperly,” Bright’s lawyers said.

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