At the same time, the president and key staff of the White House are intensifying attacks on Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country’s foremost infectious disease expert. Fauci has been increasingly sidelined by the White House as he rings alarms about the virus, a very unwelcome message at a time when Trump is focusing on economic recovery.
“We haven’t even started to see the end of it yet,” he said in an interview with the dean of Stanford medical school on Monday, calling for a “step back” when it reopens.
WATCH | Dr. Anthony Fauci on the United States’ management of the COVID-19 pandemic:
Last week, Fauci contradicted Trump on the severity of the virus during an episode of the FiveThirtyEight podcast. While Trump repeatedly claims that he has done a great job against the pandemic, Fauci said: “As a country, when you compare us to other countries, I don’t think you can say that we are doing very well. I mean, we’re just not. ”
Trump later said that Fauci “made a lot of mistakes.” He underscored Fauci’s early disagreement with him over the travel ban to China and the evolution of guidelines on the use of masks as scientists’ understanding of the virus improved – points the White House said. developed in media statements this weekend.
Asked if the president still trusts Fauci, a White House official insisted Monday that Trump did. The official said Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, was seen as “a valued voice” in the White House coronavirus task force. The official spoke on condition of anonymity, although the president has repeatedly denounced anonymous sources.
“I have a very good relationship with Dr. Fauci,” Trump told reporters on Monday, calling him “very nice.” But the president added, “I don’t always agree with him.”
This message of support was not echoed by Peter Navarro, one of the best White House business advisers who worked on the coronavirus effort.
In an email, Navarro continued to criticize Fauci on The Associated Press on Monday, saying the doctor had “a good bedside with the public but that he was wrong on everything I have ever interacted with him “.
This includes, he said, minimizing the early risk of the virus and expressing skepticism about the use of hydroxychloroquine, which Navarro has aggressively defended despite conflicting evidence of its efficacy and safety.
Fauci, who did not appear at recent White House task force briefings and was largely absent from television, told the Financial Times last week that he saw Trump in person at the White House on June 2 and had not informed him for at least two months.
He blamed the fact that he refused to follow the administration’s line for his refusal to approve many of his media requests.
“I have a reputation, as you probably understand, for telling the truth at all times and not for making sugar. And that may be one of the reasons why I haven’t been on TV a lot lately, “said Fauci. .
Experts trump Fauci
Trump’s political enemies have expressed it more strongly.
“The President’s disgusting attempt to pass the buck by blaming the country’s top infectious disease expert – whose advice he constantly ignored and Joe Biden implored him to take – is yet another horrific and revealing failure by management at the time.” that the number of tragic deaths continues to grow unnecessarily, “said Andrew Bates, campaign spokesperson for Democrat Biden.
Fauci’s public inconsistencies with Trump were viewed by the president as a personal affront and provoked sourness in the doctor in the west wing, officials said.
However, a senior White House official insisted that the frustration toward him was more aimed at foreigners, including some in the media “who raise Fauci” and blamed the White House for not showing more deference.
At the same time, supporters flock to the defense of Fauci. The president and scientific director of the Association of American Medical Colleges issued a statement saying the organization was “extremely concerned and alarmed by the efforts” to discredit Fauci.
“America should applaud Dr. Fauci for his service and follow his advice, without damaging his credibility at this critical time,” they wrote.
“We cannot allow Donald Trump to silence Dr. Fauci or any other government scientist,” added Senator Ed Markey, a Democrat from Massachusetts, who introduced legislation in April to protect Fauci and other leaders from National Institutes of Health against political dismissals. the reasons. “Dr. Fauci saves lives every day. “