Trump claims Fauci criticized his China travel restrictions

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President Trump said in an interview aired on Fox Business early Thursday that he was criticized by “everybody,” including Anthony Fauci, for restricting travel to China to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.

“I was criticized by everybody, including Dr. Fauci. I put in a wall. We put in a pretty strong wall. Only a small number of people were allowed in and they were all U.S. citizens,” Trump told Fox Business’s Maria Bartiromo. “And then I put up a barrier to Europe, too.”

“By doing this, we actually acted very early,” the president continued.

Trump’s remarks are at odds with Fauci’s public statements crediting the restrictions, which went into effect in early February, with helping to slow the spread of the virus in the United States. They also come as Trump has broken with Fauci in recent days on his cautious tone on reopening the country amid the pandemic, something the president has been eager to do in order to help revive the U.S. economy.

“I don’t think it’s going to be that worse because I think what we’re doing is going to have an effect. And — and, for example, the president’s decision to essentially have a major blocking of travel from China, that already had an effect of not seeding the way, in Europe — Italy didn’t do that,” Fauci told ABC’s “This Week” in March.

“What we’re doing now with the other travel restrictions — so you block infections from coming in,” Fauci continued. “And then within is when you have containment and mitigation. And that’s the reason why the kinds of things we’re doing that may seem like an overreaction will keep us away from that worst-case scenario.”

Trump has repeatedly pointed to his decision to restrict incoming travel from China as evidence he was quick to act to address the coronavirus pandemic. The president has come under scrutiny for initially downplaying the threat of the virus and his administration has been faulted for delays in testing that experts say cost critical time at the outset of the outbreak.

Trump broke with Fauci, a top U.S. infectious disease expert and member of the White House coronavirus task force, on Wednesday over his remarks Tuesday to a Senate panel warning about the adverse effects of reopening states too early.

“Look, he wants to play all sides of the equation,” Trump told reporters in the Cabinet Room when asked about Fauci’s comments, noting he disagreed with Fauci’s cautious tone on reopening schools.

“I was surprised by his answer actually,” Trump said. “It’s just, to me it’s not an acceptable answer, especially when it comes to schools.”

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