Trump targets Fauci, Birx in lengthy diatribe
Former President Trump on Monday went on a tirade against Anthony Fauci and Deborah Birx, two of his former top medical advisers on the COVID-19 pandemic, excoriating their decisionmaking during his administration on the day after CNN aired previews of comments by the top government health experts.
Trump issued a lengthy statement in which he argued that he ignored both Fauci and Birx while in office as a benefit to the country and boasted that he was responsible for getting vaccines rapidly developed and approved.
“Based on their interviews, I felt it was time to speak up about Dr. Fauci and Dr. Birx, two self-promoters trying to reinvent history to cover for their bad instincts and faulty recommendations, which I fortunately almost always overturned,” Trump said in a statement Monday. “They had bad policy decisions that would have left our country open to China and others, closed to reopening our economy, and years away from an approved vaccine—putting millions of lives at risk.”
Trump also mocked Fauci for his wayward first pitch at the Washington Nationals game last year and labeled him the “king of ‘flip-flops,'” citing his changing guidance as experts learned more about the pandemic.
Trump saved his sharpest criticisms for Birx, who has in recent weeks given interviews in which she has expressed regret for how she handled her role as head of the White House coronavirus task force.
“Dr. Birx is a proven liar with very little credibility left,” Trump said, claiming that Fauci would talk badly about her behind her back.
“The States who followed her lead, like California, had worse outcomes on Covid, and ruined the lives of countless children because they couldn’t go to school, ruined many businesses, and an untold number of Americans who were killed by the lockdowns themselves,” Trump added. “Dr. Birx was a terrible medical advisor, which is why I seldom followed her advice.”
The former president also swiped at Birx for traveling for Thanksgiving to see her family despite emphasizing guidance to avoid nonessential travel. Trump delivered the criticism despite traveling frequently for campaign events throughout the pandemic, including holding a host of largely maskless rallies in the weeks leading up to the election.
Birx drew criticism last year for praising Trump’s understanding of the data on the pandemic despite his tendency to spread misinformation. She failed to push back last spring when Trump made false claims about people injecting disinfectant as a means to treat the virus.
The Trump diatribe came Monday in response to interviews by Birx and Fauci that aired Sunday as part of a preview of a special by CNN to air on Friday.
During her interview, Birx said that the first 100,000 deaths in the U.S. from the virus were difficult to prevent due to the fast-moving nature of the pandemic. But she argued that had the Trump administration acted more decisively, the rest of the deaths “could have been mitigated or decreased substantially.” More than 545,000 people have died from the virus in the United States.
Birx also said that she had a “very uncomfortable” conversation with Trump following a television interview last year in which she warned of a dire situation amid the pandemic.
Birx also told CNN that an August interview during which she warned of the dangers of COVID-19 even to rural and isolated communities drew ire from “everybody in the White House,” including Trump.
“I think you’ve heard other conversations other people have posted with the president. I would say it was even more direct than what people have heard,” Birx said, describing the conversation she had with Trump. “It was very uncomfortable, very direct, very difficult to hear.”
Fauci, who also participated in the CNN special, has long been a top target of the former president dating back to when Trump was in office. Fauci regularly pushed back against Trump’s false claims about treatments for the virus and the severity of the pandemic.
Fauci has acknowledged feeling free to speak his mind and be honest about the pandemic since President Biden took office.