DR Anthony Fauci said the recent “bizarre” attacks from the White House are “nonsense” that make the Trump administration look bad.
Fauci, 79, told The Atlantic in an interview published on Wednesday that he “cannot figure out in my wildest dreams why they would want to do that.”
Over the weekend, the White House released a list that noted all of Fauci’s apparent “mistakes” during the coronavirus outbreak.
The list included comments made in January that coronavirus — which has infected more than three million Americans — was not a “major threat.”
An official said: “Several White House officials are concerned about the number of times Dr Fauci has been wrong on things.”
The list came after President Donald Trump said last week that Fauci “is a nice man, but he’s made a lot of mistakes.”
Fauci said: “I think they realize now that that was not a prudent thing to do, because it’s only reflecting negatively on them.”
And of White House trade adviser Peter Navarro, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said: “I can’t explain Peter Navarro.”
“He’s in a world by himself. So I don’t even want to go there.”
Navarro wrote in an op-ed for USA Today released on Tuesday that Fauci has “been wrong about everything I have interacted with him on.”
He wrote that when Trump announced a travel ban from China – the then-epicenter of the pandemic – Fauci “fought against the president’s courageous decision.”
“When I warned in late January in a memo of a possibly deadly pandemic, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases was telling the news media not to worry.”
Navarro also criticized Fauci for saying a decreasing “mortality rate doesn’t matter when it is the single most important statistic to help guide the pace of our economic reopening.”
“So when you ask me whether I listen to Dr Fauci’s advice, my answer is: only with skepticism and caution,” Navarro wrote.
Experts have defended Fauci, saying that as more information became available about the new disease, that guidance from doctors would naturally change.
Shortly after the op-ed was published, White House Director of Strategic Communications Alyssa Farah tweeted that Navarro’s op-ed “didn’t go through normal White House clearance processes and is the opinion of Peter alone.”
“@realDonaldTrump values the expertise of the medical professionals advising his Administration,” Farah tweeted.
According to CBS News, a senior administration official Trump “did not sign off” on Navarro’s op-ed, which Chief of Staff Mark Meadows is reported to be “fully engaged” with, as he thought it was “unacceptable.”
On Wednesday, Trump said of the op-ed: “That’s Peter Navarro, but I have a very good relationship with Dr Fauci.”
His press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, added: “To the notion that there’s opposition research and that there’s Fauci versus the president, it couldn’t be further from the truth.”
“Dr Fauci and the president have always had a very good working relationship.”
Later on Wednesday, Vice President Mike Pence tweeted a photo of a White House coronavirus task force meeting, where Fauci was present.
Productive meeting of the @WhiteHouse Coronavirus Task Force today. As we continue to put the health and well-being of the American people first, we are working closely with states to move forward, safely reopening our Nation and get Americans back to work. pic.twitter.com/WxsZwd8kiM
Speaking to The Atlantic, Fauci said that he wouldn’t resign from his role amid the pandemic.
“I think the problem is too important for me to get into those kinds of thoughts and discussions. I just want to do my job. I’m really good at it. I think I can contribute.”
Fauci said he told Meadows that the list “was not particularly a good thing to do. Ultimately, it hurts the president to do that.”
“When the staff lets out something like that and the entire scientific and press community push back on it, it ultimately hurts the president. And I don’t really want to hurt the president.”
“But that’s what’s happening. I told him I thought it was a big mistake. That doesn’t serve any good purpose for what we’re trying to do,” Fauci said.
As for his job, Fauci said he’s “going to keep doing it,” but added: “Obviously, we’ve got to do better. We’ve got to almost reset this and say, ‘Okay, let’s stop this nonsense.’”