Trump was dismissive of Fauci in an interview last Tuesday with Gray Television’s Greta Van Susteren, saying: “I think we are in a good place. I disagree with him.” And speaking with Fox News’ Sean Hannity last Thursday, Trump remarked that “Dr. Fauci is a nice man, but he’s made a lot of mistakes.”
Top administration officials have begun to follow the president’s lead in piling on Fauci, including White House trade adviser Peter Navarro, who memorably sparred with the doctor in April over the efficacy of the controversial antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine as a potential coronavirus treatment.
“Dr. Fauci has a good bedside manner with the public but he has been wrong about everything I have ever interacted with him on,” Navarro told The Washington Post in a story published Saturday, adding: “So when you ask me if I listen to Dr. Fauci’s advice, my answer is only with caution.”
Appearing Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Adm. Brett Giroir, the administration’s coronavirus testing czar, said that while “I respect Dr. Facui a lot,” he is “not 100 percent right, and he also doesn’t necessarily … have the whole national interest in mind. He looks at it from a very narrow public health point of view.”
McEnany addressed the friction between Fauci and his administration colleagues Monday on “Fox & Friends,” echoing Giroir and arguing that Fauci considers the pandemic response only through the lens of a “public health standpoint.”
“Dr. Fauci’s one member of a team. But rest assured, his viewpoint is represented, and the information gets to the president through” the White House coronavirus task force, McEnany said.
Fauci did not address the controversy over his feud with Trump during a virtual interview Monday with Lloyd Minor, dean of the Stanford University School of Medicine, but he did characterize the outbreak as a “really serious problem” that “we haven’t even begun to see the end of” yet.
Increasingly ostracized within Trump’s federal government, Fauci elicited declarations of support Monday from his peers in the medical community, who forcefully defended the veteran director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
David Skorton, president and CEO of the Association of American Medical Colleges, and Ross McKinney, the association’s chief scientific officer, said in a statement that the AAMC “is extremely concerned and alarmed by efforts to discredit” Fauci, who “has been an independent and outspoken voice for truth as the nation has struggled to fight” the pandemic.
“Taking quotes from Dr. Fauci out of context to discredit his scientific knowledge and judgment will do tremendous harm to our nation’s efforts to get the virus under control, restore our economy, and return us to a more normal way of life,” Skorton and McKinney said. “America should be applauding Dr. Fauci for his service and following his advice, not undermining his credibility at this critical time.”
A majority of Americans, 51 percent, still trust medical advice from Fauci, according to an Economist/YouGov poll conducted last week, including 68 percent of Democrats, 52 percent of Independents and 38 percent of Republicans. Only 33 percent of Americans trust medical advice from Trump.
Fauci is not the only senior health official within the administration to have drawn the president’s ire in recent weeks. Trump similarly targeted CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield in a tweet last week that accused the public health agency’s guidelines for reopening schools of being “very tough & expensive.”
The president’s push to return students to classrooms in the fall represents the latest front in his crusade for a broad-based economic reopening, in spite of surging Covid-19 caseloads.
The U.S. has notched records for new infections in late June and early July, with daily cases reaching 60,000 for the first time. On Sunday, Florida logged 15,000 new cases, surpassing the daily record reported by any single state since the start of the outbreak.
Although Trump ceded to bipartisan calls to wear a mask in public for the first time Saturday, during a visit to Walter Reed National Medical Center, he has remained reluctant to acknowledge the coronavirus’ threat as hotspots continue to emerge across in communities across the South and West.
He claimed in an interview with Fox Business earlier this month that the highly contagious disease is “at some point … going to sort of just disappear,” and asserted during an address at the White House marking Independence Day celebrations that “99 percent” of cases are “totally harmless.”