Bleach Peddler Lobbied Trump Before He Suggested Disinfectant
May 2, 2020 Update: A federal judge in Florida has granted an order against Mark Grenon and the Genesis II church to immediately stop all distribution of MMS, the church’s branded disinfectant chlorine dioxide. In her May 1 order, Judge Kathleen M. Williams noted that “the Government also submitted evidence demonstrating Defendants’ open refusal to comply with the Court’s April 17, 2020 Temporary Restraining Order,” noting that Grenon said in his webcast, “Just because the FDA submits a TRO and the DOJ . . . signs the order, it doesn’t mean it has to be obeyed or even given attention.” Judge Williams found “a cognizable danger that Defendants will continue to violate the FDCA in the future unless a preliminary injunction is issued.”
On Friday morning, Grenon addressed a letter to the court, which he said he also sent to President Trump and Attorney General William Barr. In the letter, Grenon said, “Today, In The U.S. Religious Freedom Is Being Attacked By The FDA, FTC, U.S. Attorneys And A Federal Judge.” He defended MMS, and criticized Judge Williams for “allowing our Genesis II Church Sacraments to be label as a ‘drug,'” adding, “This is VERY offensive to us a Church and should to ALL Religions in the U.S.”
Grenon has not yet responded to our inquiry, asking if he and the church plan to comply with the order
April 28, 2020 Update: At least two posts from Mark Grenon’s Facebook account were apparently removed after Rantt Media published this article. Screenshots of Grenon’s now-removed posts about an Alan Keyes documentary promoting a “miracle” cure, and benefits of disinfectant chlorine dioxide “when added to drinking water” appear in our original article. It is not clear whether Facebook or Grenon removed the posts. Neither have answered our requests for comment. To read our full update, click here. The article as originally published is below.
The leader of a church who is taking credit for prompting President Trump’s suggestion to use disinfectant for treating coronavirus is facing prosecution by federal authorities for peddling industrial bleach marketed as “miracle” treatment for COVID-19 — a chemical he is touting on Facebook.
In a series of Facebook posts, Mark Grenon, a self-ordained ‘bishop’ of the Genesis II Church in Florida, seemed to attribute the president’s remarks about disinfectant to a letter he sent Trump. Grenon urged his Facebook followers to send Trump their testimonies, and noted the benefits of disinfectant chlorine dioxide “when added to drinking water.”
Grenon said he sent a letter to Trump last weekend, informing the president of the powers of his church’s “sacramental” disinfectant called MMS — or Miracle Mineral Solution — saying it could cure the coronavirus, as first reported by The Guardian.
The White House has not responded to our inquiries about whether Grenon’s pitch to Trump prompted the president’s remarks about disinfectant. The Guardian told Rantt Media that they also have had no response from the White House.
Grenon’s letter to Trump and the president’s suggestion of disinfectant to treat coronavirus comes after Federal authorities brought legal action against Grenon and his church.
The U.S. Department of Justice issued a press release on April 17: “Justice Department Seeks to End Illegal Online Sale of Industrial Bleach Marketed as ‘Miracle’ Treatment for COVID-19. Court Orders Defendants to Stop Operating Website Selling Unlawful Bleach Product for Coronavirus Treatment.”
A spokesperson for the U.S. District Court in South Florida, where prosecutors are pursuing Grenon, told Rantt Media that a hearing is scheduled for May 1. The court said it could provide no further comment because the case is pending.
During a White House Coronavirus Task Force press briefing on Thursday, President Trump suggested injecting disinfectant as a possible treatment for coronavirus. Video from the briefing shows Trump looking to Dr. Deborah Birx, lead science advisor, and Department of Homeland Security science official Bill Bryan, saying:
“And then I see the disinfectant, where it knocks it out in a minute. One minute. And is there a way we can do something like that, by injection inside or almost a cleaning. Because you see it gets in the lungs and it does a tremendous number on the lungs. So it would be interesting to check that. So, that, you’re going to have to use medical doctors with. But it sounds — it sounds interesting to me.”
Trump’s coronavirus disinfectant comments are ‘dangerous’, doctors say, after the U.S. president said during a White House briefing that scientists should try to apply their findings to patients by inserting ultraviolet light or disinfectant https://t.co/NW9RfDjfw4 pic.twitter.com/EaUplvHTnY
— Reuters (@Reuters) April 24, 2020
Trump’s remarks prompted an avalanche of criticism and urgent warnings from all corners. The makers of Clorox and Lysol pleaded with Americans not to inject or ingest their products.
Citing a “significant increase” in calls to the Illinois Poison Control Center after Trump’s remarks, the Illinois Department of Public Health Director urged state residents not to ingest cleaning chemicals as a treatment for coronavirus.
On Friday, Trump falsely said he was being “sarcastic” about suggesting disinfectant to treat the coronavirus, saying, “I was asking a question sarcastically to reporters like you just to see what would happen.”
But the video clearly shows Trump directing his disinfectant remarks at Dr. Birx and Bill Bryan. Not only that, but Trump appears to double down on his remarks after claiming he was being sarcastic:
“So I said, how do we do it inside the body or even outside the body with the hands and disinfect, I think would work. .. Maybe there’s something there.” pic.twitter.com/UsmOqiaxzt
— Acyn Torabi (@Acyn) April 24, 2020
The White House also tried to scrub Trump’s disinfectant comments. Kayleigh McEnany, the new White House press secretary, used Trump’s favorite all-purpose cleanser: blame the media.
“Leave it to the media to irresponsibly take President Trump out of context and run with negative headlines,” McEnany said in a statement.
Here is some context.Looking to make a difference? Consider signing one of these sponsored petitions:
Grenon’s Disinfectant Grift
Last Sunday, “Bishop” Grenon dedicated his weekly online broadcast to read aloud a letter he sent to Trump, touting the benefits of chlorine dioxide.
In his recording titled, “Letter to President Trump and Response to FDA/FTC about their attack on our Sacraments!” Grenon read from his letter to Trump, telling the president that MMS is “‘a wonderful detox that can kill 99% of the pathogens in the body,” saying it “can rid the body of Covid-19.”
Grenon issued this warning in his letter to Trump:
“If the FDA and FTC get away with attacking our church sacraments, then you will lose your election,” adding, “Churches will not tolerate their religious rights taken away,” and “Please get rid of Dr. Fauci and [Bill] Gates influencing your administration.”
Grenon said he also sent Trump a copy of his book about MMS, which is advertised on his website, along with a list of MMS “Sacrament Providers” — apparent re-sellers from around the world, including one that “ships throughout USA.”
According to The Guardian, Grenon’s church is “the largest producer and distributor of chlorine dioxide bleach as a ‘miracle cure’ in the US,” and “Since the start of the pandemic, Genesis II has been marketing MMS as a cure to coronavirus. It advises users, including children, to mix three to six drops of bleach in water and drink it.”
The CDC lists chlorine dioxide on their Toxic Substances Portal, noting that chlorine dioxide is used as a bleach at pulp mills for the manufacture of paper.
Grenon said in his broadcast that he did not receive a response from Trump.
But Grenon suggested in Facebook posts on Friday that his letter sent to Trump prompted the president’s comments about using disinfectant to treat the virus.
On Friday morning, Grenon posted, with a link to video: “Trump has got the MMS and all the info!!! Things are happening folks! Lord help others to see the Truth!”
Later on Friday, Grenon posted The Guardian article that identified his letter to Trump as the precipitate for Trump’s disinfectant solution.
On Saturday, Grenon posted on Facebook about the “Uses & Benefits of Chlorine Dioxide,” saying, “When added to drinking water, it helps destroy bacteria, viruses and some types of parasites that can make people sick…”
Later on Saturday, Grenon urged his followers on Facebook to send their testimonies to President Trump, presumably about their experiences with MMS. He posted: “Everyone write the President with your testimonies. They speak the loudest! The fake news hates the Truth!”
Trump’s disinfectant suggestion is his latest, but not his first, promotion of a potentially dangerous and unproven treatment for coronavirus.
Rantt Media previously reported on Trump’s promotion of hydroxychloroquine, which he also touted as a treatment for coronavirus without scientific evidence. His promotion of the drug was amplified by Fox News hosts like Laura Ingraham who misrepresented a doctor’s credentials in her zeal to promote hydroxychloroquine, as I discovered.
Trump’s push of hydroxychloroquine, besides wasting resources and time, and posing danger, also may delay and damage scientific efforts to develop a vaccine to treat coronavirus.
Dr. Rick Bright, formerly the lead vaccine scientist in the Trump administration’s Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), was recently forced out of his role after questioning hydroxychloroquine. Dr. Bright’s attorneys say he plans to file a whistleblower complaint.
Andy Slavitt, former head of healthcare for the Obama administration, said of Dr. Bright’s removal in an interview with Chris Cuomo: “It’s like the Patriots are down by two touchdowns in the fourth quarter, and you take Tom Brady out of the game.”
After a study showed hydroxychloroquine boosted death rates in COVID-19 patients, the president and his partner network, Fox News, went noticeably silent on the drug.
The spotlight has since shifted to Trump’s suggestion of disinfectant. But warnings about Grenon’s church sacrament and claims about a “miracle” cure are not new.
The FDA first warned the public about the dangers of MMS in 2010, saying “MMS consumers are drinking bleach,” resulting in illness.
An ABC News examination in 2016 said, “Yet, while federal law prohibits the sale of such supposed cures, an ABC News ‘20/20’ investigation found the Genesis II Church of Health and Healing making those very claims, with its founder beyond the reach of U.S. law in Mexico and its archbishop conducting weekend seminars where his sermons appear to have come from the Book of Shams.”
Apparently, Grenon and his church are no longer beyond the reach of U.S. law.
On April 8, the FDA issued a warning letter to Grenon and his church: “Thus, any coronavirus-related treatment or cure claims regarding such product are not supported by competent and reliable scientific evidence. You must immediately cease making all such claims. Violations of the FTC Act may result in legal action seeking a Federal District Court injunction.”
Feds are following through. Prosecutors in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in South Florida filed a request with the U.S. District Court for a temporary restraining order and injunction against Genesis II Church and its leaders.
As CBS News reported: “The entity, run by Mark Grenon, Joseph Grenon, Jordan Grenon, and Jonathan Grenon, sells so-called ‘sacramental kits’ that include a two-ounce bottle of MMS, or sodium chlorite, and a two-ounce bottle of hydrochloric acid, marketed as an ‘activator.’”
Grenon did not respond to our request for comment.
On Saturday, after disavowing his own comments about a disinfectant treatment, Trump tweeted about coronavirus, saying there “will be a ‘Miracle’ end!”
Proponents who have long advocated for MMS as a miracle cure likely took notice of Trump’s tweet mentioning a “miracle.”
Among the notable boosters of MMS is Alan Keyes, conservative pundit, former diplomat and adviser to President Ronald Reagan. The Daily Beast reported last year that Keyes appeared “in pro-MMS broadcasts with bottles of MMS from a dubious bleach ‘church’ featured prominently on his desk.”
In his letter to Trump, Grenon mentioned as “P.S.” to the president that he would be conducting an interview with Keyes about MMS.
On Sunday morning, Grenon posted on Facebook: “Former Ambassador and presidential candidate knows MMS works and saw it first hand!” linking to a documentary about Keyes on the church’s video site.
While Grenon’s posts on Facebook promoting chlorine dioxide remain intact, Twitter has removed tweets promoting the chemical. As Business Insider reported:
“A Twitter spokesperson said that the company had removed these messages and others by Sather promoting chlorine dioxide as a treatment for the coronavirus.”
“We’re prioritizing the removal of COVID-19 content when it has a call to action that could potentially cause harm,” Twitter told BI in a statement.
Grenon’s posts on Facebook are part of a larger pattern at the social media giant. As NBC News reported, snake oil salespeople of all stripes are using Facebook to hawk their bogus COVID-19 treatments:
“Facebook pages created in late March sold UV ‘sanitizer’ lights, promising ‘a proven impact on COVID-19’ and to be the ‘most effective way to kill viruses… Some ads, including ones from companies including UV Sanitizers, and Uvlizer, were still active as of Friday morning. The products apparently evaded the company’s ban of ads for coronavirus miracle cures instituted last month.”
But the FDA has been cracking down on some high-profile marketing on Facebook of “miracle” cures.
Televangelist Jim Bakker was warned by the FDA in March: “We have also reviewed your social media page at https://www.facebook.com/jimbakkershow/,” and, “The FDA has determined that your website offers products labeled to contain silver, such as ‘Silver Sol Liquid,’ for sale in the United States and that these products are intended to mitigate, prevent, treat, diagnose, or cure COVID-191 in people.”
Facebook executives have assured the public of the company’s commitment to contain the spread of dangerous Covid-19 misinformation.
“Stopping the spread of misinformation and harmful content about COVID-19 on our apps is also critically important,” wrote Guy Rosen, VP of Integrity at Facebook.
Nick Clegg, VP of Global Affairs and Communications at Facebook wrote that the company is “taking aggressive steps to stop misinformation and harmful content from spreading.”
Mark Grenon’s Facebook page not only promotes chlorine dioxide; it also attacks Dr. Fauci, Bill Gates, and vaccine science, amplifying an array of dangerous and false anti-science conspiracy theories that proliferate on the internet.
As NBC News reported, “Prominent QAnon accounts celebrated Trump’s apparent nod to bleach consumption or injection, with one prominent QAnon YouTuber and MMS reseller calling it ‘a good ‘lung cleaner’ on Thursday night.’”
No one from Facebook has responded to our requests for comment.
April 28 Update: At least two posts from Mark Grenon’s Facebook account were apparently removed after Rantt Media published this article.
Screenshots of Grenon’s now-removed posts about an Alan Keyes documentary promoting a “miracle” cure, and benefits of disinfectant chlorine dioxide “when added to drinking water” appear in our original article.
It is not clear whether Facebook or Grenon removed the posts. The FDA issued a press release on April 17 about a DOJ temporary injunction against Grenon’s church, noting that the agency “continues to monitor social media.” There will be a hearing on the government’s request to extend the injunction on May 1, 2020. It is also not clear whether the FDA compelled the removal of Grenon’s Facebook posts.
A spokesperson for the FDA told Rantt Media in an email that “the FDA generally does not comment on open compliance matters, its compliance or enforcement strategy, or open legal matters,” and advised us to reach out to Facebook for more information regarding actions taken on their site.
A director of media relations at Facebook responded to Rantt Media on LinkedIn, saying we should reach out to the company via its media contact email address. No one from Facebook, Genesis II nor Grenon responded to our inquiries.
Of note, Grenon’s Facebook post with link to his online broadcast, during which he read a letter he sent to Trump, remains intact. Grenon posted it on the morning of Thursday, April 23. Later that day, Trump made his now-infamous remarks about disinfectant as a possible treatment for COVID-19. The article as originally published is above.