Fauci says relationship with Trump is good, but would step down from task force if asked

Fauci says relationship with Trump is good, but would step down from task force if asked
© Greg Nash

Anthony FauciAnthony FauciThe Hill's 12:30 Report: White House, Dems debate coronavirus relief package Trump: COVID-19 vaccine may be ready 'right around' Election Day Fauci: It's 'entirely conceivable' we could be 'way down' on level of cases by November MORE, the nation’s top infectious diseases expert, said Wednesday his relationship with President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden says his faith is 'bedrock foundation of my life' after Trump claim Coronavirus talks on life support as parties dig in, pass blame Ohio governor tests negative in second coronavirus test MORE is good in “some respects” and he plans to remain in his role on the White House coronavirus task force until he feels he isn’t valued in the role. 

“I see myself in that role as long as I feel that I’m being useful, and I’m valued in it, and the White House wants me. If any of the above change, then I would step down,” Fauci told "CBS Evening News" anchor Norah O'Donnell in an interview for InStyle, when asked how long he sees himself keeping that role. 

Fauci, who serves as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said he doesn’t have plans to step down from serving the nation in that capacity, either. 

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“I don’t see any termination within the near future because I judge [my career] by my energy and my effectiveness. And right now, with all due modesty, I think I’m pretty effective,” Fauci said. 

“I certainly am energetic. And I think everybody thinks I’m doing more than an outstanding job. I have a wife with incredibly good judgment, who will probably give me the signal when it’s time to step down. But I don’t think we’re anywhere near that right now,” he added. 

Fauci said the White House also does not have the authority to determine the role at the institute or the power to fire him from that position. 

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The disease expert also said his relationship with Trump is good, amid reports that the White House sought to undermine Fauci with a memo detailing “wrong” statements he had made about the pandemic. 

“You know, it’s complicated. Because in some respects I have a very good relationship with him. During the times that I was seeing him a fair amount, it was quite a collegial relationship. And in many respects, it probably still is, but I don’t see him very much anymore,” Fauci said, referring to Trump. 

He also said the task force and doctors still meet regularly and has almost daily discussions with Vice President Pence, who then briefs the president daily. 

“So in some respects, even though it’s indirect as opposed to direct, we still have access to the president through the vice president,” Fauci said. 

Pence on Wednesday said Fauci is a “valued" member of the task force. 

In addition to the reported memo, however, some administration officials, including Dan Scavino, deputy chief of staff for communications, have publicly issued attacks on Fauci. 

In an interview with The Atlantic published earlier Wednesday, Fauci said the efforts to discredit him are “bizarre.” 

“I cannot figure out in my wildest dreams why they would want to do that,” Fauci said. “I think they realize now that that was not a prudent thing to do, because it’s only reflecting negatively on them."

He also told InStyle that he doesn't regret any comments he made earlier during the pandemic that may contradict the message he’s pushing now, including recommending the public wear masks, noting that guidance changed as information about the virus was learned. 

“I don’t regret anything I said then because in the context of the time in which I said it, it was correct,” he said. 

“When it became clear that the infection could be spread by asymptomatic carriers who don’t know they’re infected, that made it very clear that we had to strongly recommend masks,” he added.

—Updated Thursday at 11:13 a.m.