Dr. Anthony Fauci corrected the record Monday, announcing during the Coronavirus Task Force briefing that President Donald Trump had taken action when it was recommended.
Fauci explained that a hypothetical answer from a Sunday morning CNN interview had led a number of outlets to suggest that Trump had ignored calls from the experts to shut things down earlier — and that just was not the case. (RELATED: Our Reckless Media Isn’t Built For Anthony Fauci’s Careful Words)
Fauci began by explaining that he answered a hypothetical question Sunday about whether earlier mitigation steps might have saved more lives — and he said that it might have.
That answer, as Fauci noted, was quickly taken as a suggestion that someone — namely Trump — was to blame for mitigation efforts not beginning sooner.
Fauci says he “voluntarily” made comments at today’s briefing explaining that Trump accepted his recommendation to issue social distancing guidelines. A clarification, Fauci says, of what he told CNN on Easter Sunday.
— Jim Acosta (@Acosta) April 13, 2020
“The first and only time that Dr. Birx and I went in and formally made a recommendation to the president to actually have a ‘shutdown’ in the sense of not really shut down, but to really have strong mitigation, we discussed it,” Fauci explained. “Obviously there would be concern by some, and in fact, that might have some negative consequences. Nonetheless, the president listen to the recommendation. And went to the mitigation.”
Fauci went on to say that the second time was no different, adding, “The next second time that I went with Dr. Birx into the president and said 15 days are not enough, we need to go 30 days, obviously there were people who had a problem with that, because of the potential secondary effects, nonetheless, at that time the president went with the health recommendations, and we extended it another 30 days.”
Appearing to take a shot at the media, Fauci continued, “So I can only tell you what I know and what my recommendations were, but clearly as happens all the time, there were interpretations of that response to a hypothetical question that I just thought it would be very nice for me to clarify, because I did not have the chance to clarify. Thank you.”
One reporter pressed Fauci on the date of the mitigation recommendation, and he replied, “To be honest with you, I do not even remember the date. I can just tell you the first and only time that I went in and said we should do mitigation strongly, the response was, ‘yes, we will do it. ‘”
CBS’ Paula Reid asked Fauci whether he was clarifying the comment voluntarily or because he’d been instructed to do so, prompting Fauci to rebuff her. “I am doing it — everything I do is voluntary, please. Don’t even imply that,” he said.
Fauci basically vouching for Trump taking direction from Birx & him. Paula Reid from CBS asks if he is being forced to make this statement, as though he is a hostage. Fauci fires back that no one tells him what to do.
We live in insane times.
— Ellen Carmichael (@ellencarmichael) April 13, 2020