NIAID director Dr. Anthony Fauci, who has advised six presidents on matters pertaining to domestic and global health issues, has recently found himself in the White House's crosshairs as the Trump administration looks to soil his credibility amid their unacceptable and destructive response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The White House released a memo Sunday with a list indicating how "several White House officials are concerned about the number of times Dr. Fauci has been wrong on things." The smear campaign continued the very next day with a USA Today op-ed from Trump economic adviser Peter Navarro, who claimed that Fauci "has been wrong about everything I have interacted with him on."
Navarro accused Fauci of flip-flopping on the use of a face covering in public, downplaying the threat of an impending pandemic with the media back in January, and fighting against Trump’s "courageous decision" to place a travel ban on China.
In an interview with The Atlantic, Fauci was asked about these allegations from Navarro, responding, "I can’t explain Peter Navarro; he’s in a world by himself. So I don’t even want to go there." Navarro is truly in a world by himself because after the op-ed was published, White House spokesperson Alyssa Farah said that his remarks are "the opinion of Peter alone."
Navarro was also left out in the cold by the man he thought he was trying to defend. "That’s Peter Navarro, but I have a very good relationship with Dr. Fauci," Trump said Wednesday, nearly parroting a statement he made on Monday, declaring that he and Fauci "get along very well," even though he "doesn’t always agree with him."
Fauci said that his input on the coronavirus response is heard "literally every day" by Vice President Mike Pence, so he's left to assume that their interactions are relayed to Trump.
"I cannot figure out in my wildest dreams why they would want to do that," Fauci said of the White House "bizarre" efforts to undercut him. When speaking with White House chief of staff Mark Meadows on Monday, he expressed that the administration’s attempt to make him look bad "ultimately hurts the president."
"I said that that was not particularly a good thing to do. Ultimately, it hurts the president to do that," Fauci said. "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."
In June, a national poll conducted by The New York Times and Siena College concluded that 76 percent of respondents trusted Fauci with providing "accurate information," compared to only 26 percent who said they trust Trump.