Stunning testimony during the preliminary hearing in the first criminal trial related to the Flint Water Crisis is raising questions about whether or not Michigan Governor Rick Snyder is telling the truth about when he learned about the Legionnaires' outbreak in the city.
During a hearing before the House Oversight Committee, Snyder testified that he did not learn about the Legionella outbreak until 2016.
“In terms of Legionnaires, I didn’t learn of that until 2016 and as soon as I became aware of it, we held a press conference the next day. That was clearly a case where the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services should have done more to escalate the issue and get it visible to the public and to me,” is how Snyder testified, when asked about the outbreak by Congressman Tim Walberg.
The announcement of the outbreak came in January 2016.
However, during his testimony today Harvey Hollins, the Director of Michigan's Office of Urban and Metropolitan Initiatives, testified that he told Snyder about the outbreak weeks before the announcement, in December of 2015.
“What I reported that Rich Baird and I told the Governor in 2015 only went to Jarrod Agen from me,” Hollins testified.
Snyder's administration has long maintained that the Governor only learned about the outbreak days before it was announced in 2016.
Hollins was also asked if he was telling the truth today, to which he replied, "I took an oath."
He also said he did not address the issue with the Governor at any other time, beyond the December 2015 meeting.
This may cause Congressional committee members to take another look at the Governor's testimony and examine whether they need to consider further action against Snyder.
Dan Kildee, the US Congressman who represents Flint, has issued the following statement:
Mr. Hollins’ testimony raises concerning questions about the Governor’s statements that need to be answered. I have already spoken to the Ranking Member of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Congressman Elijah Cummings, and asked that the committee immediately look into these conflicting statements. I am confident that the committee will look into this matter right away and get to the truth.
People have to tell the truth when they testify before Congress. No one is above the law and misleading Congress is a very serious offense.
According to a tweet from a Detroit Free Press reporter, Governor Snyder's office says they will not be commenting on the testimony.
Comment for Gov. Snyder spokeswoman on contradiction of dates: "We don't comment on the investigation or the judicial proceedings."
— Elisha Anderson (@elishaanderson) October 6, 2017
Hollins is testifying in the preliminary hearing of Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Nick Lyon.
Lyon is charged with manslaughter and misconduct in office. He is accused of covering up the outbreak.