Dr. Fauci Describes ’Liberating Feeling’ Of No Longer Working Under Trump
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Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, endured a tortuous relationship with the former president and was increasingly sidelined from public briefings.
But the 80-year-old returned to the White House podium on Thursday after Joe Biden released a national Covid-19 strategy and signed 10 executive orders to combat a pandemic that has now claimed more than 400,000 lives in the US.
“One of the things that we’re going to do is to be completely transparent, open and honest,” Fauci told reporters. “If things go wrong, not point fingers, but to correct them. And to make everything we do be based on science and evidence.”
“That was literally a conversation I had 15 minutes ago with the president and he has said that multiple times,” Fauci added.
Asked if he would like to amend or clarify anything he said during Trump’s presidency, Fauci insisted he had always been candid, noting wryly. “That’s why I got in trouble sometimes.”
Fauci and other public health advisers were forced to walk a delicate line as the president used coronavirus taskforce briefings to downplay the virus, push miracle cures and score political points. On one occasion Trump mused about injecting patients with disinfectant but the response coordinator Deborah Birx remained silent.
Fauci’s frankness did not go unnoticed. During the election race in October, Trump reportedly told campaign staff: “Fauci is a disaster. If I listened to him, we’d have 500,000 deaths.” At a rally in early November, as crowds chanted “Fire Fauci! Fire Fauci!”, Trump suggested he might do just that.
At Thursday’s briefing, Fauci was asked how it feels to no longer have Trump looming over him. “Obviously, I don’t want to be going back over history but it’s very clear that there were things that were said – be it regarding things like hydroxychloroquine [pushed as a treatment by Trump] and things like that – that really was uncomfortable because they were not based on scientific fact.
“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 that you could actually say something and there wouldn’t be any repercussions about it. The idea that you can get up here and talk about what you know, what the evidence, what the science is and know that’s it, let the science speak, it is something of a liberating feeling.”