Fauci says Trump did not ‘distort’ impact of the pandemic
Anthony Fauci on Wednesday said he doesn’t think President Trump was publicly distorting the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
During an interview with Fox News’s John Roberts, Fauci said Trump’s public press conferences in the early spring mostly echoed what members of the White House coronavirus task force were telling him in private.
“I didn’t see any discrepancies between what he told us and what we told him and what he ultimately came out publicly and said,” Fauci, the country’s top infectious diseases expert and head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said.
“He really didn’t say anything different than we discussed when we were with him,” Fauci said.
During the interview, Fauci stressed that he was speaking about his own conversations and interactions with the president.
“Remember, I’m a small frame in the big picture of what goes on,” Fauci said.
Fauci acknowledged that Trump would “want to make sure the country wouldn’t get down and out about things,” but added, “I don’t recall anything that was a gross distortion in anything I spoke to him about.”
Fauci was responding to a new book written by Washington Post associate editor Bob Woodward in which Trump went on the record to say he publicly downplayed the threat of the emerging coronavirus pandemic despite knowing its actual danger.
Trump told Woodward in a March 19 interview that he “wanted to always play it down” to avoid creating a panic, according to audio published by CNN. But the president was privately aware of the threat of the virus, especially that it was much deadlier than the flu.
At the start of the outbreak, Trump repeatedly told the public the virus was nothing to worry about.
In February, he said the United States had the situation under control. Later that month, he predicted the U.S. would soon have “close to zero” cases.
In early March, Trump tweeted that there were only 546 confirmed coronavirus cases and 22 deaths, compared to thousands of seasonal flu deaths.
“So last year 37,000 Americans died from the common Flu. It averages between 27,000 and 70,000 per year. Nothing is shut down, life & the economy go on,” he said.
Fauci’s interview also comes on the same day Politico reported that emails showed how a senior adviser for the Department of Health and Human Services tried to dictate what Fauci said during interviews to prevent him from talking to the media about the risks the coronavirus poses to children.