House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Sunday that she had “no faith” in White House senior coronavirus adviser Deborah Birx, just days after Pelosi reportedly called Birx “worst” in the of a closed-door meeting and said the White House coronavirus team was “awful” hands down. “
At the same time, Pelosi praised Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIH), as a “hero”. Democrats have largely turned against Birx after a low-content New York Times article criticized her for standing up for President Trump – but Fauci, who has repeatedly changed his mind on key aspects of pandemic, is now seen as more willing to challenge the president. .
WATCH: BIRX DEFENDS THE CORONAVIRUS TEST FROM THE ADMINISTRATION
“I think the president is spending – spreading disinformation about the virus and she’s hers – she’s her designate,” Pelosi told ABC News’s Martha Raddatz on Sunday. “So I don’t trust me there, no. ”
Pelosi’s remarks immediately drew a rebuke from the White House.
“It is deeply irresponsible of President Pelosi to repeatedly attempt to undermine and create public distrust of Dr Birx, the lead public health professional on the Coronavirus Task Force,” Alyssa Farah, White House director of strategic communications tweeted after the interview. “It’s also just plain wrong. Period. Hard stop. ”
For her part, Birx told CNN on Sunday that she had “immense respect for the President.” She also highlighted her commitment to data and her long career in the military.
Birx then slammed the New York Times, saying he was “unhappy” the newspaper wrote an article about his views on the coronavirus “without speaking to him”. Maggie Haberman of The Times countered that Birx doesn’t speak to the media often – a trait some commentators have praised.
Dismissing Times criticism that she was overly optimistic about the virus, Birx noted that “the day they brought it up I was – quote -” pollyannish “, I said there was an improvement in the New York subway, but ongoing cases in Boston and Chicago, a new outbreak in Houston and full log spread, and new outbreaks of concern in Baltimore, New Haven and Washington, DC ”
“It wasn’t a pollyanic point of view,” Birx continued. “I’ve never been called pollyannish, unscientific or non-data driven. I will build my 40-year career on these fundamentals of using data to deliver better programs and save lives.
Also on Sunday, Pelosi and the Republicans blamed each other for stalling stimulus talks. Pelosi told Raddatz that Trump was ultimately responsible for the delay.
“We were for the $ 600 [expanded unemployment benefit]. They have a $ 200 proposal, which doesn’t meet the needs of working American families, ”Pelosi said. And that’s condescending, quite frankly, because they say, really don’t need to; they just stay home because they make more money at $ 600. ”
Meanwhile, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows told CBS News’s “Face the Nation” that a deal was unlikely to be imminent. He urged Democrats to consider a short-term bill to save time for longer negotiations, instead of demanding a full bill that includes increases in food stamps and other high-priced items.
“We still have a long way to go,” Meadows said. “I can tell you that we’ve spent the last three days, actually the last four days, trying to come to some sort of consensus, at least to start negotiating. Yesterday was a step in the right direction. Our staffs are currently working. We will meet again tomorrow. But I am not optimistic that there will be a very short term solution. And that is why I think Senator Martha McSally’s effort in the Senate to prolong the rise in unemployment was the right one and yet Senator Schumer and his fellow Democrats blocked that. ”
Democratic leaders are eager for a sweeping deal, as are President Trump and senior Republicans like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. But perhaps half of Senate Republicans, mostly conservatives and those not facing tough races this fall, are likely to oppose any deal.
Earlier talks had yielded little progress and Saturday’s cautious optimism was a break from the grim private assessments among GOP negotiators. The administration is ready to extend the newly expired $ 600 unemployment benefit, at least in the short term, but balks at other democratic demands such as aid to state and local governments, increases in food stamps and assistance to tenants and owners.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said reinstating the additional $ 600 unemployment benefit was of critical importance to Trump.
“We’re still a long way off and I don’t want to suggest a deal is imminent because it’s not,” Meadows said afterward. “There are still substantial differences, but we have made good progress. ”
Supplementary unemployment benefit officially expired on Friday, and Democrats have made it clear they will not extend it without securing other relief priorities. Anything that unemployment aid negotiators agree on will be retroactive – but outdated state systems will likely take weeks to restore benefits.
Republicans in the Senate had fought to reduce the benefit by $ 600, saying it should be reduced so that people do not earn more unemployment than they would if they returned to work. But their determination weakened as the advantage expired, and Trump abruptly undermined their position by signaling that he wanted to keep the entire $ 600 for now.
Trump used Twitter on Friday to explicitly endorse the extension of the $ 600 payment and to criticize Schumer.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.