During the White House briefing on Monday, July 13, press secretary Kayleigh McEnany answered CNN reporter Jim Acosta’s questions as to why Trump was questioning the credibility of Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, in the media.
Acosta asked, “Why is the White House trashing Dr. Fauci and sending out opposition research like memos to reporters – The President has gone off on anonymous sources in the past, why not have the guts to trash Dr. Fauci with your own names?”
“So, President Trump, um, there is no opposition research being dumped to reporters,” McEnany responded. “We were asked a very specific question by the Washington Post and that question was President Trump had noted that Dr. Fauci had made some mistakes and we provided a direct answer to what was a direct question.”
Acosta followed up by asking, “Hasn’t the president made mistakes? He suggested at one point that Americans inject themself with disinfectants – that sort of thing. Why not send out these notes to reporters about what Dr. Fauci said in the past with your names on it? It was sent out by a White House official that the president said he doesn’t trust anonymous sources, and yet, you were sending out these notes to reporters anonymously?”
“I would note that in terms of the president and his record on coronavirus, he stands by the actions and steps he’s taken in his historic response,” McEnany said. “You have Dr. Fauci, who said, ‘The record of this president is impressive and I can’t imagine that under any circumstance that anyone could be doing more,’ and those are the words of Dr. Fauci.
“To the notion that there’s opposition research and that there’s Fauci versus the president couldn’t be further from the truth,” McEnany continued. “Dr. Fauci and the president have always had a very good working relationship.”
Acosta’s fellow CNN reporter, Kaitlan Collins, confirmed there were no names on the report given to the Washington Post. She tweeted, “There was no name on the statement and it was distributed to multiple outlets after being given to the Washington Post. The statement read in part, ‘Several White House officials are concerned about the number of times Dr. Fauci has been wrong on things.’”
Former Human Health & Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius Said Trump’s Efforts to Discredit Fauci Are ‘Potentially Very Dangerous’
Kathleen Sebelius, who under former President Barack Obama served as secretary of Health and Human Services told CNN that if Trump is successful in convincing the public not to trust Fauci, the results could be “potentially very, very dangerous,” especially while American and other countries work to find a vaccine for COVID-19.
She said, “I think people want to know from the scientists that the vaccine is safe, that it is effective, that it will not do more harm than good. And if the public scientists have been discredited, if the President says ‘don’t believe them, you can’t listen to them, they’re often wrong,’ we have then undermined a national vaccination campaign which is an essential step to bringing this horrible period to an end.”
In an interview with Wolf Blitzer on The Situation Room, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff spoke his thoughts on the combative discourse between Trump and Fauci.
Schiff said, “We need people more than ever to speak truth to power, to be able to level with the American people about what we’re facing with this pandemic, how to get it under control, how to protect ourselves and our families. That’s what Dr. Fauci has been trying to do and by sidelining him the President is once again interfering with an effective response to this pandemic.”
Fauci Hasn’t Briefed the President on Coronavirus in Nearly 2 Months
After hearing McEnany’s response about Fauci on Monday, PBS NewsHour reporter Yamiche Alcindor refuted her statement. She tweeted, “Note: Dr. Fauci has said it has been some two months since he briefed the president about the coronavirus. The WH is sending essentially opposition research to reporters on Dr. Fauci.”
Fauci told the Financial Times last week that not only has he not visited White House in two months, but he also hasn’t even spoken to the president since June 2. “I have a reputation, as you probably have figured out, of speaking the truth at all times and not sugar-coating things,” Fauci said. “And that may be one of the reasons why I haven’t been on television very much lately.”
While Fauci has not directly briefed the president, he has spoken to the public about the current state of America and coronavirus. Fauci, on June 26, along with Vice President Mike Pence and fellow Coronavirus Task Force leader Dr. Deobrah Birx, gave a press conference on the nation’s fight against COVID-19 for the first time in nearly two months.
Fauci said, “We’re not going to say blame,” in regards to the recent spike in coronavirus patients in America, “but I’d like to get a message to the country in general. When you have an outbreak of infectious disease, it’s a dynamic process that is global. We can’t get away from that. You have a societal responsibility. If we want to end this outbreak, we have got to realize we are part of the process.”