President Donald Trump said Wednesday that he has a “very good relationship” with Dr. Anthony Fauci, as he denounced a scathing opinion piece written by White House trade adviser Peter Navarro on the U.S. infectious diseases expert.
The president made the remarks in response to an article written by Navarro for USA Today, which criticized the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) for his projections on the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus pandemic.
“Dr. Anthony Fauci has a good bedside manner with the public, but he has been wrong about everything I have interacted with him on,” the trade adviser wrote in his op-ed, published July 14.
In his op-ed, Navarro alleged that Fauci—a member of the government’s COVID-19 task force—“fought against” the president’s “courageous decision” in issuing an executive order on Jan. 31 barring people who had been in China within the past 2 weeks from entering the United States.
The president issued the order as part of measures to stem the transmission of COVID-19, the disease caused by the CCP virus. It came into effect on Feb. 2.
The decision, Navarro argued, “might well have saved hundreds of thousands of American lives.”
“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,” the trade adviser wrote.
Navarro added that in February, Fauci was telling the public that the virus was “low risk,” and was “flip-flopping on the use of masks.”
“So when you ask me whether I listen to Dr. Fauci’s advice my answer is: only with skepticism and caution,” he continued.
NIAID didn’t immediately respond to a request by The Epoch Times for comment.
Although there was an initial lack of pushback from the White House on Navarro’s article, Trump addressed it a few hours after its publication.
“I get along very well with Dr. Fauci,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office Wednesday. “I have a very good relationship with Dr. Fauci.”
“We’re all on the same team, including Dr. Fauci,” the president said when asked about Navarro directly. “He made a statement representing himself. He shouldn’t be doing that. I have a very good relationship with Anthony.”
The Peter Navarro op-ed didn’t go through normal White House clearance processes and is the opinion of Peter alone. @realDonaldTrump values the expertise of the medical professionals advising his Administration.
— Alyssa Farah (@Alyssafarah) July 15, 2020
A White House official said Trump did not endorse Navarro’s op-ed and that Navarro was told “explicitly in recent days to deescalate the situation.” The official said that White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows is “fully engaged” on the matter and that Meadows thought Navarro’s article was “unacceptable.”
“The Peter Navarro op-ed didn’t go through normal White House clearance processes and is the opinion of Peter alone,” the White House’s Director of Strategic Communications Alyssa Farah said in a statement Wednesday.
Trump, she added, “values the expertise of the medical professionals advising his administration.”
Tensions between Trump and Fauci have emerged at times with the president focused on getting Americans back to work and school while Fauci has urged caution to prevent the spread of infection.
Trump said July 9 that Fauci “is a nice man, but he’s made a lot of mistakes.”
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany on Monday said Fauci’s assessments during the COVID-19 pandemic are made from a public health standpoint and don’t necessarily take into account issues from other perspectives.
Zachary Stieber and Reuters contributed to this report.