Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) on Tuesday defended Dr. Anthony Fauci following reports that an unnamed White House official issued a memo over the weekend criticizing his past comments on the coronavirus.
On Sunday, an unnamed White House aide sent news outlets a list of Fauci’s past comments regarding the coronavirus that later turned out to be inaccurate. The aide said in a statement that “several” White House officials are “concerned about the number of times Dr. Fauci has been wrong on things,” according to reports in the Washington Post, NBC News and CNN.
When asked about the White House’s efforts to discredit Fauci during a press conference on Tuesday, Graham defended the nation’s top infectious disease expert by praising him for being “one of the smartest people I know,” despite agreeing with the notion that Fauci has not been right all the time.
“We don’t have a Dr. Fauci problem,” Graham said. “We need to be focusing on doing things that get us to where we need to go. So I have all the respect in the world for Dr. Fauci. I think any effort to undermine him is not going to be productive, quite frankly.”
After saying that he’s looking for a “phase 4 that hits the target” from the federal government, Graham went on to argue that “getting in a contest with Dr. Fauci about whether he was right or wrong” won’t help the country “move the ball forward.”
“Here’s where we are as a nation: the infection rate is going up, we shut the whole country down, it’s time to reopen up smartly, it’s time to go back to school,” Graham said. “And we got to deal with the reality that we’re not as prepared as we need to be, but we’re moving in the right direction.”
Graham’s comments come a day after White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany denied that its memo criticizing Fauci’s past comments was the result of opposition research against the doctor. McEnany insisted on Monday that the White House “provided a direct response to a direct question” and argued the idea that it launched an opposition research campaign against Fauci “couldn’t be further from the truth.”
Shortly after the White House briefing Monday afternoon, President Trump told reporters that he has a “very good relationship” with Fauci.
“I have a very good relationship with Dr. Fauci. I’ve had for a long time, right from the beginning,” Trump said. “I find him to be a very nice person. I don’t always agree with him.”
Watch Graham’s remarks below: