President Trump said Wednesday that he has a “very good relationship” with Dr. Anthony Fauci, just hours after White House trade adviser Peter Navarro published a blistering op-ed criticizing the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases for his projections on the coronavirus pandemic.
“I get along very well with Dr. Fauci,” Trump told reporters Wednesday in the Oval Office. “I have a very good relationship with Dr. Fauci.”
His comments came 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.”
He continued: “When I warned in late January in a memo of a possibly deadly pandemic, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases was telling our news media not to worry.”
Further, he wrote that in February, “Fauci was telling the public the China virus was low risk.” 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.”
Navarro’s comments come as 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.”
Fox News' Kristin Fisher contributed to this report.