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White House denies Fauci sidelined

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany on Monday insisted that Anthony FauciAnthony FauciFauci says US could have herd immunity by end of summer 2021 Let the littlest state lead us on COVID-19 Atlas departure from White House cheered by public health officials MORE’s recommendations on the coronavirus pandemic are reaching President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump alludes to possible 2024 run in White House remarks Trump threatens to veto defense bill over tech liability shield Tiger King's attorney believes they're close to getting pardon from Trump MORE amid signs of a rift between the commander in chief and the nation's top infectious diseases expert.

McEnany also described Fauci’s opinion as only “one viewpoint” among many considered by Trump. Her remarks came after Fauci said last week that he hasn’t briefed the president in two months and were punctuated by growing evidence of an effort by the White House to cast doubt on Fauci’s credibility and sideline his opinion.

“The point of the task force is to be a whole of government look at what is best for this country,” McEnany said on “Fox & Friends” when asked about the status of Trump’s relationship with Fauci. “Dr. Fauci is one member of a team, but rest assured, his viewpoint is represented and the information gets to the president through the task force.”

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Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, Fauci has offered blunt warnings and fact-driven assessments of the threat and the public health effort to defeat the virus. At times, his statements and opinions have put him at odds with Trump, though Fauci has walked a line between contradicting the president and directly criticizing him.

The latest example came last week, when Fauci told the Financial Times that Trump’s recent claim that 99 percent of coronavirus cases are “harmless” was not the case.

Fauci has also warned about the threat posed by recent surges in a number of states, saying they could spread widely if left unchecked and urged states seeing such spikes to pause efforts to reopen businesses. Such steps could threaten the economic recovery, however, which is a key priority of Trump.

The president said last week that he disagreed with Fauci’s assessment that the United States is still “knee deep” in the first wave of the coronavirus, claiming instead that the country is in “a good place.”

The Washington Post reported over the weekend that the White House had canceled some of Fauci’s planned television appearances and kept him out of the Oval Office in recent weeks, diminishing his role in addressing the pandemic.

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Adm. Brett Giroir, the federal official coordinating coronavirus testing, insisted Sunday that science is driving the administration’s policy decisions while downplaying Fauci’s opinion, saying he doesn’t consider “the whole national interest.”

“I respect Dr. Fauci a lot, but Dr. Fauci is not 100 percent right and he also doesn’t necessarily and he admits that have the whole national interest in mind. He looks at it from a very narrow public health point of view,” Giroir said on NBC's "Meet the Press."

McEnany said Monday that she agreed with Giroir’s assessment.

“Adm. Giroir, I think, hit the nail on the head on this yesterday. He was making the point that Dr. Fauci represents one viewpoint in the administration and he looks at things from a public health standpoint,” McEnany said on “Fox & Friends.”

Some within the White House, like trade adviser Peter Navarro, have directly criticized Fauci. Navarro told the Post in a statement that Fauci “has a good bedside manner with the public but he has been wrong about everything I have ever interacted with him on.”

Polls have shown that Fauci, who has served as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases for more than three decades, is among the officials most trusted by the American public to offer information related to the pandemic.