The White House on Saturday unleashed on Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country’s leading infectious disease expert, following his comments to the Washington Post that criticized the Trump administration’s response to the pandemic, including Dr. Scott Atlas, who the President has relied on for advice on handling the coronavirus.
“It’s unacceptable and breaking with all norms for Dr. Fauci, a senior member of the President’s Coronavirus Taskforce and someone who has praised President (Donald) Trump’s actions throughout this pandemic, to pick three days before an election to wade into controversy,” White House deputy press secretary Judd Deere said in a statement to CNN on Saturday night.
Deere took issue with Fauci’s comments where the doctor seemingly praises Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s campaign. Fauci told the Post that the Democratic nominee’s campaign “is taking it seriously from a public health perspective.” While Trump, Fauci said, is “taking a gander at it from a different perspective.” He said that perspective was “the economy and reopening the country,” according to the Post.
“As a member of the Task Force, Dr. Fauci has a duty to express concerns or push for a change in strategy, but he’s not done that, instead deciding to criticize the President in the media and make his political leanings known by applauding the President’s opponent — exactly what the American people have come to expect from The Swamp,” Deere said.
Fauci, a leading member of the government’s coronavirus response, said the United States needed to make an “abrupt change” in public health practices and behaviors, according to the Post. He said the country could outperform 100,000 new coronavirus cases a day and predicted rising deaths in the coming weeks.
“Dr. Fauci knows that the risks today are dramatically lower than they were only a couple of months ago with mortality rates falling over 80%. The Trump Administration, through the work of the Task Force, continues to surge testing, PPE, personnel, and capacity to protect the vulnerable, help schools reopen, and respond to conditions on the ground,” Deere said.
In Friday’s interview with the Post, Fauci also criticized Atlas, a neuroradiologist and Trump’s hand-picked coronavirus adviser, for his lack of expertise.
“I have real problems with that person,” Fauci said. “He’s a smart person who’s talking about things that I believe he doesn’t have any real insight or knowledge or experience in. He continues talking about things that when you dissect it out and parse it out, it doesn’t bode well.”
Atlas responded to Fauci on Twitter, tweeting on Saturday night: “#Insecurity #EmbarrassingHimself #Exposed #CantThrowABall #NoTimeForPolitics.”
Atlas on Saturday made dubious claims in a 27-minute interview to RT, the propaganda network that had played a significant role in the Kremlin’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 US presidential election and later was forced to formally register with the Justice Department as an agent of the Russian government.
“New interview. Lockdowns, facts, frauds … in the event that you can’t handle truth, use a mask to cover your eyes and ears,” Atlas, who has misrepresented the effectiveness of masks and discouraged testing of asymptomatic people, tweeted along with the interview.
On Sunday, Atlas apologized for doing that interview, tweeting, “I recently did an interview with RT and was unaware they are a registered foreign agent. I regret doing the interview and apologize for allowing myself to be taken advantage of. I especially apologize to the national security community who is working hard to defend us.”
Atlas didn’t have leeway from the White House for the interview – which RT said was done on White House property – and senior aides raised concerns internally after Atlas appeared on the network, a senior White House official told CNN.
Fauci, in his remarks to the Post, gave a dismal warning of a Covid-19 surge as the country heads into fall and winter.
“We’re in for a ton of hurt. It’s not a good situation,” Fauci said. “All the stars are aligned in the wrong place as you go into the fall and winter season, with people congregating at home inside. You could not possibly be positioned more inadequately.”
Deere pushed back on this warning Saturday, saying, “Dr. Fauci may have just admitted that he is afraid the cure will be more terrible than the disease and that not at all like the President he has no confidence in the American people to settle on the best decision for themselves armed with CDC best practices.”
Fauci’s comments came the exact day that the US reported 99,321 new Covid-19 cases – the highest single day number of cases recorded for any country. As of Saturday night, the country’s death toll from the pandemic has topped 230,000.
Then, 29 states set new records this month for the most new day by day cases since the pandemic began, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
Fauci’s assessment of the country’s handling of the pandemic also comes as Trump has continued to insist on holding huge rallies — including four in Pennsylvania on Saturday alone — which only draws attention to the fact that he is dangerously flouting the safety guidelines of his own experts at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, challenging Americans to consider him accountable for it on Election Day.
This isn’t the first time Fauci has disagreed with the Trump administration for their handling of the pandemic. Earlier this month, the President trashed Fauci as a “disaster” and made baseless coronavirus claims in a campaign call.
Referring to Fauci and other health officials as “idiots,” Trump declared the country ready to proceed onward from the health disaster, even as medical experts warn the worst may be yet to come.
Baselessly claiming that if Fauci was in control more than half a million people would be dead in the United States, Trump portrayed the recommendations offered by his own administration to mitigate the spread of the disease as a burdensome annoyance.
“People are tired of Covid. I have the biggest rallies I’ve ever had, and we have Covid,” Trump said, phoning into a call with campaign staff from his namesake hotel in Las Vegas, where he spent two nights in the midst of a western campaign swing. “People are say