The White House sent reporters documents seeking to discredit top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci after he disputed claims made by President Donald Trump about the new coronavirus.
An anonymous White House official released a statement claiming that “several White House officials are concerned about the number of times Dr. Fauci has been wrong on things” and included a “lengthy list” of comments he made early in the outbreak which turned out to be incorrect, The Washington Post first reported.
The document was sent to reporters at seemingly every mainstream news outlet.
“Confirming Washington Post reporting– WH openly discrediting Fauci,” CNN’s Kristen Holmes tweeted.
“As @washingtonpost first reported, a White House [official] also provided a long list of past Fauci comments that did not age well, in what bears striking resemblance to an oppo dump,” NBC News’s Josh Lederman added.
The New York Times’ Maggie Haberman also noted that it was “laid out in the style of a campaign’s opposition research document.”
Trump has repeatedly said in recent interviews that he “disagrees” with Fauci on his assessment that the coronavirus is getting worse — not better — in the U.S. His concerns are visible in the data: the country reported a record-high 67,211 new confirmed cases Friday.
Fauci no longer briefs Trump and is “never in the Oval [Office] anymore,” a senior official told The Post. The two have not spoken since the first week of June, though the report noted that Trump cannot directly fire Fauci, who has strong bipartisan support after more than 50 years at the National Institutes of Health.
Trump has also been bothered by Fauci’s approval rating. A recent New York Times poll found that 67% of voters trust Fauci for information on the coronavirus compared to 26% who trust Trump.