The White House is preventing Dr. Anthony Fauci from testifying before a House subcommittee on the federal government’s response to the coronavirus, a new report claims.
The Washington Post reported on Friday that the House Appropriations Committee is investigating the outbreak and response to the coronavirus and sought to have Fauci testify, but it was blocked by the White House. Fauci serves as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and has been a key member of the White House’s task force responding to the virus, appearing regularly at daily briefings and becoming one of the most trusted members of the Trump administration.
But as the Washington Post noted, Fauci has also publicly contradicted Trump on some of the president’s misstatements about the virus and potential treatments. This has made him the target of some of the president’s allies, and Trump once retweeted someone who called on him to fire Fauci. This came days after Fauci appeared to publicly criticize the administration for failing to act sooner in instituting social distancing guidelines and not properly preparing a sufficient supply of medical equipment and supplies.
Fauci also hinted that these recommendations were made to the White House, but the advice was not taken.
“Obviously you could logically say that if you had a process that was ongoing and you started mitigation earlier, you could have saved lives,” Fauci said, via Business Insider. “Obviously, no one is going to deny that. But what goes into those kinds of decisions is complicated.”
The White House later said that there were no plans to fire Fauci.
Fauci has taken a less prominent role at recent briefings, the report noted, with the White House pushing a message more heavily focused on the economy and sometimes clashing with Fauci’s cautious approach to lifting stay-at-home restrictions and allowing businesses to start reopening.
The hearings on the coronavirus would be some of the first in-person meetings of Congress in weeks, the report added, as lawmakers have mostly stayed away from Washington amid the outbreak of the virus.
“Democrats are eager to return to conducting oversight of the massive spending and the administration’s response, and multiple House committees are likely to seek testimony from administration officials in coming weeks,” the report noted. “It is unclear whether the White House decision to refuse to allow Fauci to participate next week will be part of a broader refusal to participate in congressional oversight hearings about the pandemic response.”