McConnell says he has 'total' confidence in Fauci

McConnell says he has 'total' confidence in Fauci
© Greg Nash

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellMcGrath reshuffles campaign in home stretch to Senate election GOP senator draws fire from all sides on Biden, Obama-era probes Chris Wallace rips both parties for coronavirus package impasse: 'Pox on both their houses' MORE (R-Ky.) on Wednesday threw his support behind Anthony FauciAnthony FauciFauci dismisses Tucker Carlson's criticism but says it may inspire threats from 'crazies' Fauci tells Matthew McConaughey he backs 'universal wearing of masks' The Hill interview: NIH chief addresses concerns about speed of COVID-19 vaccine development MORE, as the nation's top infectious disease expert has come under fire from members of the Trump administration.  

Asked during a stop in Kentucky what his level of confidence is in Fauci, McConnell replied: "Total." 

McConnell's backing of Fauci comes as President TrumpDonald John TrumpUPS, FedEx shut down calls to handle mail-in ballots, warn of 'significant' problems: report Controversial GOP Georgia candidate attempts to distance from QAnon Trump orders TikTok parent company to sell US assets within 90 days MORE and other top administration officials have tried in recent days to cast doubt on his medical advice. 

ADVERTISEMENT

There's been tension between the two men throughout the pandemic, with the president downplaying the severity of the virus and publicly breaking with the advice of his own public health officials. 

Republican lawmakers have repeatedly defended Fauci, who is widely respected on both sides of the aisle on Capitol Hill. 

Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGOP senator draws fire from all sides on Biden, Obama-era probes Has Congress captured Russia policy? Graham on Harris: 'No issue' as to whether 'she is an American citizen' MORE (R-S.C.) said during a South Carolina press conference that trying to undermine Fauci was not "productive." 

"He's been around a long time. He's one of the smartest people I know. Has he been right all the time? No. We don't have a Dr. Fauci problem. ... I have all the respect in the world for Dr. Fauci. I think any effort to undermine him is not going to be productive, quite frankly," Graham said. 

ADVERTISEMENT

The questioning of public health officials comes as states around the country are seeing an increase in the number of coronavirus cases. The United States has had nearly 3.5 million coronavirus cases, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, with 136,699 deaths. 

Fauci defended his record earlier this week saying that "you can trust respected medical authorities. ... I believe I’m one of them, so I think you can trust me.” 

The White House, on Wednesday, also sought to distance itself from an op-ed trade adviser Peter Navarro wrote Tuesday questioning the credibility of Fauci. 

"The Peter Navarro op-ed didn’t go through normal White House clearance processes and is the opinion of Peter alone," White House director of strategic communications Alyssa Farah tweeted. "@realDonaldTrump values the expertise of the medical professionals advising his Administration."