President Trump on Sunday said the nation’s top infectious diseases expert, Anthony Fauci, is a “little bit of an alarmist” but denied that the White House is running a campaign against him amid rising coronavirus cases in a number of states.
Trump made the remark after Chris Wallace, host of “Fox News Sunday,” asked the president to respond to White House deputy chief of staff for communications Daniel Scavino’s Facebook post showing Fauci as a faucet and depicting the expert as a “leaker” and an “alarmist,” according to Wallace.
“Well, I don’t know that he’s a leaker. He’s a little bit of an alarmist,” he said. “That’s OK. A little bit of an alarmist.”
Trump said he had a good relationship with Fauci, but he also pointed out that the doctor has been wrong about aspects of the crisis, noting that at one point he was not recommending that people wear masks.
“Dr. Fauci at the beginning said, ‘This will pass. Don’t worry about it. This will pass.’ He was wrong,” Trump said after saying he has a “great relationship with him.” “Dr. Fauci said, ‘Don’t ban China. Don’t ban China.’ I did. He then admitted that I was right.”
When Wallace asked, “Why on earth would your administration be involved in a campaign at this point to discredit Dr. Fauci,” Trump immediately replied, “Because we’re not.”
“Dr. Fauci’s made some mistakes,” Trump said. “But I have a very good — I spoke to him yesterday at length. I have a very good relationship with Dr. Fauci.”
Fauci has criticized what he has seen as White House attacks against him, saying he doesn’t understand why they are happening and arguing that it is harmful to Trump.
“Ultimately, it hurts the president to do that,” Fauci said in an interview with The Atlantic earlier this week. “When the staff lets out something like that and the entire scientific and press community push back on it, it ultimately hurts the president.”
White House trade adviser Peter Navarro wrote an op-ed in USA Today, saying Fauci is wrong about “everything” he’s interacted with him about. Trump responded that Navarro “shouldn’t be doing that.”
Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, also called the attacks “bizarre,” “nonsense” and “completely wrong” in the Atlantic interview.
During the Fox interview, Wallace at one point said that Trump had also made mistakes in responding to the coronavirus crisis,
“I guess everybody makes mistakes,” Trump responded.
Trump acknowledged his previous claims that the virus is “going to sort of just disappear,” saying “I’ll be right eventually.”