During a Saturday press briefing, President Donald Trump was asked about the reports regarding Anthony Fauci, a doctor renowned in contagious diseases, being silenced from speaking out on the coronavirus, Raw Story reports.
"Can you tell us that this widely-respected expert Dr. Fauci will have every opportunity to tell us the truth — " the reporter began.
"Well, that's a very dishonest question because he has had that," Trump snapped.
The reporter then asked Trump why he believes the question was dishonest.
"Because he had that, virtually to do anything he wanted to do and in fact, he was never muzzled. I think you can speak, whatever you're speaking to. Very dishonest question. But that's okay."After the verbal spat, Fauci, who is the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), took the stand and claimed that he was not being muzzled. According to Fauci, reports of silencing were "misinterpreted."
A Thursday report from The New York Times claimed that the Trump administration barred Fauci from speaking about the coronavirus without approval from the White House. Speaking to Business Insider, an NIAID spokesperson reportedly said that the claims were "not true."
Per Business Insider, Fauci's remarks on the coronavirus have been a stark contrast to Trump's. While the president has been downplaying the impact of COVID-19, Fauci has provided more sobering remarks and warned that travel restrictions would soon become "irrelevant."Speaking to Fox News on Tuesday, Fauci claimed that the process of developing a coronavirus vaccine, which is underway, could take up to a year and a half.
"Even though we are going as fast as you possibly can, it's still going to take a good year, year and a half to see if we have a vaccine that works."The Trump administration continues to face criticism for its alleged muzzling of Fauci. Ned Price, a top National Security Council aide under Barack Obama's administration, noted that the White House relied heavily on Fauci during the Ebola epidemic. He warned against muzzling Fauci, which he equated to silencing "fact and science," during a time when it's most needed.
As The Inquisitr previously reported, the coronavirus recently caused its first death in the United States in Seattle, Washington. The death comes amid fears of person-to-person community spread, which Fauci notes makes it challenging to track the source of the virus.
As of now, the total number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the country is over 60. The majority of these cases came from outside the country and were not through community spread.