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 McConnellOvernight Health Care: Florida becomes epicenter of COVID-19 surge | NYC to require vaccination for indoor activities | Biden rebukes GOP governors for barring mask mandates McConnell warns Schumer cutting off debate quickly could stall infrastructure deal Top House Democrat says party would lose elections if they were held today: report MORE (R-Ky.) on Wednesday threw his support behind Anthony FauciAnthony FauciPaul knocks YouTube for removing video he posted, points users to competitor Average daily COVID-19 infections topped last summer's peak, CDC says Ron Johnson praises conservative author bashed by Fauci 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 TrumpFive takeaways from the Ohio special primaries Missouri Rep. Billy Long enters Senate GOP primary Trump-backed Mike Carey wins GOP primary in Ohio special election MORE and other top administration officials have tried in recent days to cast doubt on his medical advice. 

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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 GrahamThe Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by AT&T - Simone wins bronze with altered beam routine The job of shielding journalists is not finished The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - White House, Dems play blame game over evictions 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. 

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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."