Democrats hit Trump over Fauci criticism
Poll: More people trust doctor than president
WASHINGTON – Democrats are seizing on a growing rift between the White House and Dr. Anthony Fauci as aides seek to explain why President Donald Trump is battling with the nation’s top infectious disease expert during the worsening coronavirus pandemic.
As cases of the virus surge in large swaths of the country and the nation’s most populous state reversed course on reopening indoor businesses, Trump has insisted he has a “very good relationship” with Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, but also says, “I don’t always agree with him.”
As Trump and aides such as press secretary Kayleigh McEnany have dismissed questions about internal friction between the White House and Fauci, others within the president’s orbit began openly airing their criticism.
“Dr. Fauci has a good bedside manner with the public but he has been wrong about everything I have interacted with him on,” said Peter Navarro, a trade adviser who is close to the president and who claimed Fauci had downplayed the risks of the virus, “flip-flopped” on masks, and “was telling the media not to worry” this year.
“So when you ask me if I listen to Dr. Fauci’s advice, my answer is only with caution,” Navarro added.
Fauci’s supporters said his comments were being taken out of context, and that he made many of them early this year when little was known about the virus.
Meanwhile, throughout the pandemic Trump has made a series of incorrect statements and predictions about the coronavirus. Early on, he compared it to the flu, saying it might “miraculously” disappear. More recently, Trump has incorrectly blamed the rise in COVID-19 cases solely on increased testing. Trump claimed this month that 99% of coronavirus cases are “harmless” – an assertion at odds with a wide array of data on death rates and hospitalizations.
More than two thirds of Americans said they trust Fauci on the virus, according to a New York Times poll conducted by Siena College last month. That was vastly larger than the 26% who said they trusted Trump on that issue. Democrats – including Joe Biden, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee – were quick to draw the distinction.
“Donald Trump needs to spend less time playing golf and more time listening to experts like Dr. Fauci,” Biden posted on Twitter.
“The truth is, this country needs Dr. Anthony Fauci,” tweeted Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va. “These attacks are unfair; we should be listening to health experts and following the science.”
Muriel Bowser, the Democratic mayor of Washington, D.C., and a frequent critic of the president, also weighed in on the dispute.
“In Fauci we trust,” she posted on Twitter. “Mask on, DC.”
Total confirmed cases of coronavirus have surpassed 3.3 million and more than 135,000 Americans have died, according to Johns Hopkins University. Florida reported a record 132 additional COVID-19 related deaths Tuesday, surpassing the previous high of 120 set July 9.
President Donald Trump attends a briefing in April with Dr. Anthony Fauci.