Fauci describes 'chilling' pressure on scientists in Trump era

Anthony FauciAnthony FauciAstraZeneca CEO: 'Not clear yet' if boosters are needed St. Louis official says he was targeted with racist slurs over mask promotion McConnell: 'It never occurred to me' convincing Americans to get vaccinated would be difficult MORE, the federal government’s leading infectious disease expert, said it was “chilling” to see the pressure put on scientists during the Trump administration by officials seeking to project rosy messaging about the coronavirus.

Fauci recounted on “The Rachel MaddowRachel Anne MaddowBudowsky: How Biden can defeat COVID-19 for good Democratic group launches seven-figure ad campaign on voting rights bill GOP's attacks on Fauci at center of pandemic message MORE Show” on Friday night that officials under former President TrumpDonald TrumpMyPillow CEO to pull ads from Fox News Haaland, Native American leaders press for Indigenous land protections Simone Biles, Vince Lombardi and the courage to walk away MORE pressed government scientists in what he said was an unusual dynamic compared with his work under past administrations, describing "a situation where science was distorted and/or rejected."

“I didn’t want to be at odds with the president because I have a lot of respect for the office of the presidency, but there was conflict at different levels with different people and different organizations and a lot of pressure being put on to do things that just are not compatible with the science,” he said.

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“It’s a real aberrancy,” he later added. “This is my seventh administration, Rachel, and I’ve been advising administrations and presidents on both sides of the aisle, Republicans and Democrats, people with different ideologies, and even with differences in ideology, there never was this real affront on science. So it really was an aberrancy that I haven’t seen in almost 40 years that I’ve been doing this. So it’s just one of those things that is chilling when you see it happen."

The remarks are just the latest from Fauci indicating his relief to be working under President BidenJoe BidenFirst lady leaves Walter Reed after foot procedure Biden backs effort to include immigration in budget package MyPillow CEO to pull ads from Fox News MORE.

The public health expert became an early face of the Trump administration’s response to the pandemic, but he was eventually pushed out of the spotlight after adopting stances that ran afoul of the White House’s messaging that the virus would “disappear.”

“I can tell you I take no pleasure at all in being in a situation of contradicting the president, so it was really something that you didn’t feel you could actually say something and there wouldn’t be any repercussions about it,” Fauci said at a press briefing this week.

“The idea that you can get up here and talk about what you know, what the evidence and science is, and know that’s it — let the science speak — it is somewhat of a liberating feeling,” he added. 

Fauci said despite conflicts that agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) faced with the Trump White House, many officials resisted pressure applied to them.

“People were influenced, unfortunately. But I’ve got to tell you, at the same time that some might have been, a lot of people weren’t,” he said. “There were a lot of people in the CDC and the FDA who were really suffering under that.”