In an interview with Fox News broadcast on Sunday, President Donald Trump described Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, as an “alarmist,” The Hill reported.
During the contentious interview, anchor Chris Wallace pointed out that White House deputy chief of staff for communications Daniel Scavino posted to social media an image depicting Fauci as a “leaker” and an “alarmist.”
“Well, I don’t know that he’s a leaker. He’s a little bit of an alarmist,” Trump responded.
Stressing that he has a good relationship with the NIAD director, Trump argued that the nation’s leading infectious diseases expert has made a number of mistakes since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Dr. Fauci at the beginning said, ‘This will pass. Don’t worry about it. This will pass.’ He was wrong. Dr. Fauci said, ‘Don’t ban China. Don’t ban China.’ I did. He then admitted that I was right.”
Wallace then pointed to reports about Trump administration officials undermining and discrediting Fauci, asking the president to address the issue.
Trump denied the allegations, reiterating that he does not have a problem with the public health expert.
“Dr. Fauci’s made some mistakes. But I have a very good — I spoke to him yesterday at length,” he said.
Earlier this month, a White House official provided The Washington Post with a list of Fauci’s most misleading statements. The list included the expert’s claim that asymptomatic individuals can’t spread the novel coronavirus and his suggestion that “there is no need to change anything that you’re doing on a day-by-day basis.”
As the publication noted, those supportive of Fauci argued that he was simply relaying information about COVID-19 that was known at the time. According to them, the NIAD director later backtracked and clarified his remarks, advising Americans to wear masks in order to slow down the spread of the virus.
Trump’s allies have reportedly decided to “sideline” Fauci, limiting his media appearances. Some officials are apparently frustrated with the doctor’s bluntness, so they have tasked Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs Michael Caputo with approving his press interviews.
As The Hill noted, some officials aired their grievances publicly, with Trump’s trade adviser Peter Navarro penning a scathing editorial.
In an interview earlier this week, Fauci dismissed the allegations that he is being sidelined by the administration, stating that he has the full support of Trump’s White House.
He refused to comment on Navarro’s op-ed.