Several White House staffers have publicly come forward to say that they don’t trust medical advice provided by Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
Fauci leads the White House Coronavirus Task Force and has been widely viewed as the White House’s public health spokesperson. But in the past few days, several White House aides have made an effort to discredit him, claiming everything Fauci has said about COVID-19 has been incorrect.
Peter Navarro, an assistant to President Trump and the Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy director, wrote in an op-ed published on July 14 in USA Today that Fauci “has been wrong about everything.”
Navarro said Fauci was wrong when he was against the U.S. banning travel from China and allegedly told the news media not to worry about a pandemic in January.
Navarro also wrote that Fauci was wrong when he said COVID-19 was “low-risk” in February, when he “flip-flopped” on masks, and when he didn’t support the use of hydroxychloroquine to fight the virus. (The Food and Drug Administration recently reversed its approval to use hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19 patients.)
“So when you ask me whether I listen to Dr. Fauci’s advice, my answer is: only with skepticism and caution,” Navarro said.
Navarro isn’t the only aide to the president who has come forward with disdain for Fauci (and he’s not the only one in the GOP either). On July 12, White House Deputy Chief of Staff for Communications Dan Scavino shared a cartoon on Facebook that criticized the 79-year-old Fauci.
Drawn by Ben Garrison—an artist the New York Times reports is known for creating anti-Semitic drawings—the cartoon displays Fauci as a faucet drowning Uncle Sam. Each water drop is labeled with the following sayings: “Schools stay closed this fall!” “Indefinite lockdown!” “Shut up and obey!”
“Sorry, Dr. Faucet!” Scavino wrote in the caption. “At least you know if I’m going to disagree with a colleague, such as yourself, it’s done publicly—and not cowardly, behind journalists with leaks. See you tomorrow!”
Although the White House has distanced itself from any negative statements made about Fauci and said Navarro didn’t have its approval to write the op-ed, the criticism from these aides comes just days after the White House tried to anonymously release a list of what it considers to be questionable statements he had made about COVID-19.
Fauci responded to the negative comments made about him in an interview with the Atlantic, calling them “nonsense” and “completely wrong.”
“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.”