Dr Anthony Fauci, US infectious disease chief is being targeted by the Trump administration as tensions rise between the health expert and the president.
The White House off late has been increasingly critical of Dr Fauci, and on Sunday, an official shared a list detailing past apparent erroneous comments.
Dr Fauci’s changing advice on masks and remarks on Covid-19’s severity are among the points from the White House.
The move to undercut him comes as the US continues to see surges in Covid-19 cases. There are over 3.3 million cases confirmed and more than 135,000 deaths nationwide.
Dr Fauci has contradicted President Donald Trump’s comments on the pandemic a number of times, pushing back on the president’s claims that the outbreak is improving and attributing hasty state re-openings to the recent surges.
The White House memo leaked over the weekend had noted “several White House officials are concerned about the number of times Dr Fauci has been wrong on things”.
Though the White House said Dr Fauci and Mr Trump have a “good working relationship” on Monday, Trump adviser Peter Navarro told CBS News: “When you ask me if I listen to Dr Fauci’s advice, my answer is only with caution.”
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany on Monday told reporters the memo was a “direct response to a direct question” from the Washington Post.
“The notion that there’s opposition research and that there’s Fauci versus the president couldn’t be further from the truth,” she said. “Dr Fauci and the president have always had a very good working relationship.”
“When I warned in late January in a memo of a possibly deadly pandemic, Fauci was telling the media not to worry,” he said.
Mr Navarro said Dr Fauci fought against Mr Trump’s “courageous decision” to halt flights from China, initially said the virus was “low-risk”, “flip-flopped on the use of masks” and said there was “only anecdotal evidence” regarding hydroxychloroquine as a treatment.
“Now Fauci is saying that a falling mortality rate doesn’t matter when it is the single most important statistic to help guide the pace of our economic reopening.”
“Dr Fauci is not 100% right and he also doesn’t necessarily, he admits that, have the whole national interest in mind. He looks at it from a very narrow public health point of view,” Admiral Brett Giroir, assistant US health secretary and member of the virus task force told NBC.
Last week, the president told Fox News Dr Fauci was “a nice man but he’s made a lot of mistakes”.
In response to the leaked memos Dr. Fauci said, “I have a reputation, as you probably have figured out, of speaking the truth at all times and not sugar-coating things”.
Dr Fauci also said he has not seen Mr Trump in-person since 2 June and has not briefed him for the last two months. The infectious disease chief has instead been appearing on livestreams and podcasts.