The White House 'takes aim' at the nation's top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci as he disagrees with President Donald Trump on the virus.
A spokesman for the US administration told CNN that "several White House officials are concerned about the number of times Dr. Fauci has been wrong on things." The official provided a lengthy list of examples, citing Fauci's comments early in the pandemic and linking to past interviews.
These examples, which, according to the channel’s experts, recall the opposition’s accusations of a political adversary, which included statements by a doctor who downplayed the COVID-19 danger in the early stages of a pandemic and a quote from his statement in March when Fauchi said: "People should not be walking around with masks."
According to a source, President Donald Trump and Fauci do not talk to each other and stopped talking a few weeks ago. Tensions between them arose when they accused each other of not responding adequately to the pandemic.
In a recent series of newspaper and radio interviews, Fauci - who has worked under six US presidents from both parties - has at times openly disagreed with Trump.
"As a country, when you compare us to other countries, I don't think you can say we're doing great. I mean, we're just not," Fauci said in one of his interviews. In another, Fauci responded to Trump's claim that "99%" of COVID-19 cases in the United States were "totally harmless," saying he didn't know where the president got the number, and suggesting Trump's interpretation was "obviously not the case."
Trump began publicly criticizing Fauci on national TV.
"Dr. Fauci is a nice man, but he's made a lot of mistakes," Trump said.
In recent interviews, he openly questioned the advice he'd received from Fauci at the beginning of the outbreak.
"I think we are in a good place. I disagree with him," Trump said in an interview Tuesday."
One senior administration official told CNN that some officials within the White House do not trust the top infectious disease expert. According to the source, those officials think Fauci does not have the best interest of Trump.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff said Sunday evening that any effort by the White House to discredit Fauci is "just atrocious."
Schiff told CNN's Wolf Blitzer that such a move "is so characteristic of Donald Trump. He can't stand the fact that the American people trust Dr. Fauci and they don't trust Donald Trump -- and so he has to tear him down."
"We need people more than ever to speak truth to power, to be able to level with the American people about what we're facing with this pandemic, how to get it under control, how to protect ourselves and our families," Schiff continued. "That's what Dr. Fauci has been trying to do and by sidelining him the President is once again interfering with an effective response to this pandemic."
Kathleen Sebelius, who was a secretary of Health and Human Services under former President Barack Obama, told CNN that efforts to discredit Fauci and other scientists are "potentially very, very dangerous."
"I think people want to know from the scientists that the vaccine is safe, that it is effective, that it will not do more harm than good," she noted.
"And if the public scientists have been discredited, if the President says 'don't believe them, you can't listen to them, they're often wrong,' we have then undermined a national vaccination campaign which is an essential step to bringing this horrible period to an end."