Dr. Anthony Fauci, a top public health official, will not be testifying next week to a House panel probing the Trump administration’s response to the CCP virus pandemic, the White House said on Friday.
“While the Trump administration continues its whole-of-government response to COVID-19, including safely opening up America again and expediting vaccine development, it is counter-productive to have the very individuals involved in those efforts appearing at congressional hearings,” White House spokesman Judd Deere said in a statement.
“We are committed to working with Congress to offer testimony at the appropriate time,” he added.
The statement came after The Washington Post first reported on Friday afternoon that Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, would not testify as a witness for a subcommittee hearing on May 6.
The paper quoted House Appropriations Committee spokesman Evan Hollander who said that the White House was not allowing Fauci to appear. Hollander said that the House panel was told by an administration official that Fauci’s testimony was blocked by the White House.
The subcommittee is now set to hear testimony from Thomas Frieden, who led the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention during the Obama administration, Hollander said, according to the paper.
Fauci is a key member in the White House task force that coordinates the government-wide response to the outbreak of the CCP virus. He last testified before the House Oversight Committee regarding the CCP virus on March 11 and 12.
Fauci is set to appear next week at a hearing before the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, its spokesperson said, according to The Associated Press. The hearing is scheduled for May 12.
In recent days, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) have urged investigations into the Trump administration’s response to the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, a novel coronavirus that emerged from China.
In the United States, deaths attributed to the CCP virus have reached at least 65,000, according to figures from Johns Hopkins University.
President Donald Trump suggested on April 30 that he could impose new tariffs on the Chinese regime as a way to punish it for mishandling the CCP virus pandemic. He also said the administration was focused on investigating the origins of the CCP virus and Beijing’s role in its spread.
Trump told Reuters on the same day that the Chinese regime “will do anything they can” to make him lose his reelection bid in November, adding that Beijing was eager for Democratic candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden to win, in order to ease pressure on trade and other issues. Trump also said he believed the Chinese regime should have acted sooner to let the world know about the CCP virus.
A growing number of countries have stepped up calls for more transparency from the regime and for an investigation into its handling of the pandemic.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.