Dr. Anthony Fauci called attempts by the White House to discredit him “bizarre,” claiming the move would ultimately hurt President Trump.
The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases made the comments in an interview with The Atlantic after White House officials criticized him -- most notably trade adviser Peter Navarro, who accused him of being “wrong” on the coronavirus at every step.
“Ultimately, it hurts the president to do that,” Fauci told The Atlantic. “When the staff lets out something like that and the entire scientific and press community push back on it, it ultimately hurts the president.”
Fauci’s comments come after Navarro tore into Fauci in a stunning op-ed published by USA Today.
“Dr. Anthony Fauci has a good bedside manner with the public, but he has been wrong about everything I have interacted with him on,” Navarro wrote.
Navarro began by saying that Fauci “fought against” Trump’s “courageous decision” in late January to suspend flights from China as the novel coronavirus began to spread, arguing that that decision “might well have saved hundreds of thousands of American lives.”
Navarro went on to complain Fauci was “flip-flopping on the use of masks.”
He dinged Fauci for downplaying falling mortality rates, amid the debate over whether businesses should be allowed to reopen or stay shuttered. Navarro added: “So when you ask me whether I listen to Dr. Fauci’s advice my answer is: only with skepticism and caution.”
Tensions have been bubbling between the White House and Fauci. Officials have reportedly been concerned about the number of times Fauci has “been wrong on things,” according to a report last week.
A senior administration official, though, told Fox News that Navarro’s op-ed slamming Fauci was “definitely not approved by the White House.”
Another White House official told Fox News that Navarro is “going rogue.”
Alyssa Farah, White House director of strategic communications, said on Twitter that the piece “didn’t go through normal White House clearance processes and is the opinion of Peter alone.”
She said Trump “values the expertise of the medical professionals advising his Administration.”
Despite the criticisms from some officials, President Trump on Wednesday said he “gets along very well with Dr. Fauci.”
"I have a very good relationship with Dr. Fauci,” he said.