President Trump on Tuesday downplayed any rift with Dr. Anthony Fauci, a member of the White House coronavirus task force who didn’t participate in the administration’s briefing on Monday, saying he and the infectious disease expert are “fine.”
“I respect all of these great people,” he told Fox News during a virtual town hall from the White House, referring to the doctors and experts on the task force.
“And Tony is extraordinary.” Trump said members of the group aren’t required to attend every briefing because “they have other things to do.”
“Yesterday, we weren’t really talking about what he’s an expert on. We were talking about a lot of other things,” Trump said. “And I don’t think they should be at every meeting.”
Asked directly about their relationship, Trump said, “We’re fine.”
Questions were raised when Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, was noticeably absent from Tuesday’s briefing after critical comments he made about Trump were reported.
In an interview over the weekend, Fauci said he plans to “keep pushing” at Trump despite their disagreements on how to respond to the coronavirus outbreak.
“Well, that’s pretty interesting because to his [Trump’s] credit, even though we disagree on some things, he listens,” Fauci said. “He goes his own way. He has his own style. But on substantive issues, he does listen to what I say.”
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