The nation’s top infectious diseases expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, told The Atlantic in an interview published Wednesday, that recent attempts by the White House to attack and discredit him are “nonsense” and “completely wrong.”
When asked how he would respond to claims coming from the White House that he had lied about the coronavirus, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases told The Atlantic, “I stand by everything I said.”
Over the weekend, a White House memo sent out to multiple media outlets smearing Fauci claimed that “several White House officials are concerned about the number of times Dr. Fauci has been wrong on things.” The memo cited a list that purported to show examples of how Fauci contradicted himself in the early stages of the outbreak.
When asked about the Trump administration’s mounting crusade to discredit him, Fauci referred to the memo, saying that the list “was a major mistake” and “doesn’t do anything but reflect poorly on them.”
Fauci also addressed his meeting at the White House on Monday with White House chief-of-staff Mark Meadows, saying he told Meadows that the memo was an unwise move that ultimately undermines efforts to defeat the coronavirus and hurts the President.
“When the staff lets out something like that and the entire scientific and press community push back on it, it ultimately hurts the President,” Fauci said. “I don’t really want to hurt the President. But that’s what’s happening.”
Fauci’s comments come after the President further stoked doubt about the health official by sharing a tweet on Monday from former game show host, Chuck Woolery, who baselessly accused the government’s medical experts of “lying” about the virus. In an exclusive CBS interview on Tuesday night, the President defended the tweet saying he was re-posting a sentiment “that a lot of people feel,” adding that COVID-19 testing was “a trap.” Trump also told Sean Hannity last Thursday that while Fauci “is a nice man” the longtime disease expert “made a lot of mistakes.”
On Wednesday, hours after trade adviser Peter Navarro published a Tuesday evening op-ed in USA Today blasting Fauci for being “wrong about everything I have interacted with him on,” Trump insisted to reporters outside of the White House that he had a very good relationship with the infectious diseases expert.
“We’re all on the same team, including Dr. Fauci, I have a very good relationship with Dr. Fauci,” Trump said, adding, “everybody’s working on the same line and we’re doing very well.”
While touting his relationship with Fauci, the Trump administration meanwhile released new guidelines that, effective Wednesday, instructs hospitals to bypass the CDC in reporting their COVID-19 data to the government each day.
The move marks another step in the White House’s efforts in recent weeks to stray from the wisdom of many of its own health experts and politicize the data and reporting of scientists as the coronavirus death toll in the United States reaches 138,000.