Premier White House infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci has been under the microscope in recent days due to what a growing number of administration officials have characterized as poor judgment in regard to Fauci’s COVID-19 guidance.
Fauci enjoyed mostly positive press for several months as the US plunged into the pandemic, but as a battered and bruised US seeks to emerge from the grip of the virus, significant complaints about Fauci’s advice — which Trump followed unquestioningly in the beginning – have begun to proliferate.
The most explosive confrontation came when White House Trade Advis0r Peter Navarro published a blistering op-ed this week accusing Fauci of being “wrong” at every turn as the US attempted to grapple with the growing pandemic.
President Trump also added to the controversy by revealing that he “doesn’t always” agree with Fauci’s guidance earlier this week, though Trump’s criticism was very tame compared to Navarro’s.
Fauci responded by dismissing the criticism in an interview with the Atlantic on Wednesday. Fauci called the White House’s attempts to cast doubt on his guidance “bizarre.”
“Ultimately, it hurts the president to do that,” Fauci told The Atlantic. “When the staff lets out something like that and the entire scientific and press community push back on it, it ultimately hurts the president.”
President Trump himself attempted to tamp down rumors of chaos within the White House, saying on Wednesday that he “gets along very well” with Fauci, touting his “good relationship” with the infectious disease expert.
Trump also told reporters on Wednesday that Navarro should not have published the op-ed, emphasizing that “we’re all on the same team, including Dr. Fauci.”
White House director of strategic communications, Alyssa Farah, released a statement emphasizing that the private opinions of White House staffers do not reflect the official administration stance. “The Peter Navarro op-ed didn’t go through normal White House clearance processes and is the opinion of Peter alone,” Farah said, adding that Trump “values the expertise of the medical professionals advising his administration.”