In a statement Saturday, a White House official told CNN that “several White House officials are concerned about the number of times Dr. Fauci has been wrong about things.” The official provided a long list of examples, citing Fauci’s comments at the beginning of the pandemic and linking previous interviews.
These vignettes, which resembled the opposition’s investigation into a political opponent, included Fauci downplaying the virus early on and a March quote when Fauci said, “People shouldn’t be walking in masks,” among other comments.
The White House move comes when President Donald Trump and Fauci are not talking. The tension between the two men has grown publicly as the two have responded to each other through interviews and statements.
“As a country, when you compare us to other countries, I don’t think you can say that we are doing well. I mean, just not,” Fauci said in an interview. In another, Fauci responded to the president’s claim that “99%” of coronavirus cases in the United States were “totally harmless,” saying he did not know where the president got the number and suggesting that Trump’s interpretation “It was obviously not the case.” “
Trump has publicly criticized Fauci on national television.
“Dr. Fauci is a good man, but he has made many mistakes,” Trump said last week, undermining the public health expert whom Americans say in polls they trust more than the president.
In recent interviews, he openly questioned the advice he received from Fauci at the start of the outbreak.
“I think we are in a good place. I disagree with him,” Trump said in an interview Tuesday when asked about Fauci’s claim that the United States is still “knee-deep in the first wave” of the pandemic.
A senior administration official told CNN that some White House officials do not trust Fauci. According to the source, those officials think Fauci is not in the president’s best interest, pointing to interviews in which he openly disagrees with what Trump has said.
Other administration officials have told CNN that, although they disagree with Fauci’s methods, they do not doubt their motives, and that their only concern was public health.
“We need more than ever for people to tell the truth to power, to be able to catch up with the American people about what we face with this pandemic, how to control it, how to protect ourselves and our families,” Schiff continued. . “That is what Dr. Fauci has been trying to do and, by setting it aside, the president is once again interfering with an effective response to this pandemic.”
In response to questions about the White House that appears to be actively discrediting Fauci, Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs for Health and Human Services Michael Caputo said there was no White House narrative against the scientists, and provided a statement.
“We have great faith in the ability of all our scientists and physicians in the coronavirus task force to impart the necessary public health information. People like Admiral (Brett) Giroir, Surgeon General (Jerome) Adams and others transmit these messages very effectively. ” Caputo said in the statement, although he did not directly answer questions about Fauci.
Fauci did not respond to a request for comment from CNN.
This story has been updated with comments from Rep. Adam Schiff.
CNN’s Kevin Liptak and Paul LeBlanc contributed to this story.