Fauci defends Birx: 'She had to live in the White House'

Anthony FauciAnthony FauciOvernight Health Care: WHO calls for pause on COVID-19 booster shots in wealthier countries | Delta's peak is difficult to project, but could come this month Surgeon General: 'Odds are high' vaccine for kids under 12 will be approved in upcoming school year Fauci: US could see 200K daily COVID-19 cases in the fall MORE, the nation’s top infectious diseases expert, is defending former White House coronavirus response coordinator Deborah BirxDeborah BirxFauci and Birx warned Scott Atlas was 'dangerous' Ex-Biden adviser says Birx told him she hoped election turned out 'a certain way' Tulane adds Hunter Biden as guest speaker on media polarization MORE amid scrutiny of her time under former President TrumpDonald TrumpMajority of Americans in new poll say it would be bad for the country if Trump ran in 2024 ,800 bottle of whiskey given to Pompeo by Japan is missing Liz Cheney says her father is 'deeply troubled' about the state of the Republican Party MORE.

In an interview with The Atlantic published Wednesday, Fauci, who unlike Birx is staying on in the new Biden administration, was asked whether she should have spoken out more forcefully against the former administration’s COVID-19 response after she criticized it in an interview on CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday.

“It’s a tough situation. I will defend her. Unlike the situation that the FDA [Food and Drug Administration] commissioner and the CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] director and I were in, she had to live in the White House,’” Fauci said, referring to Trump's coronavirus task force.

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“She had to be there every minute of the day with these people. You’ve got to take that into consideration when you judge how much she did or did not push back. She told me multiple times, ‘Tony, this is the worst, most painful 11 months of my entire life,' ” he said.

Birx's and Fauci’s recent remarks have cast a negative light on what it was like working with Trump over the past year as the pandemic escalated.

Speaking in the White House press room last week, Fauci said it was "liberating" to now be working under a president who will "let the science speak." In an interview with Forbes, he said Trump's response to the pandemic "very likely" increased its death toll.

Fauci told The Atlantic this week that he felt bad for Birx when Trump brought in Scott AtlasScott AtlasFauci and Birx warned Scott Atlas was 'dangerous' Beware language and the art of manipulation DeSantis rips YouTube over removal of pandemic video MORE as his pandemic adviser, who he called a “complete foil to poor” Birx. 

“I felt so bad for her, because he completely undermined her. He didn’t undermine me, because I didn’t give a shit about him,” he said. “I didn’t really care what he said, because my home base was [the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases]. But Deb’s home base was the White House.”

Birx’s CBS interview made headlines this week after she told Margaret Brennan that someone was delivering a “parallel set of data” on COVID-19 to Trump and that she was “always” considering quitting his task force.