Dr. Anthony Fauci responded Wednesday to claims that President Donald Trump had downplayed the threat of the coronavirus pandemic, saying that he “didn’t get any sense” that was happening.
Fauci spoke with Fox News White House correspondent John Roberts about audio recorded by “Rage” author Bob Woodward that appeared to reveal Trump intentionally downplaying the seriousness of the virus. (RELATED: ‘Did That Decision Save Lives?’: Scalise Grills Dr. Fauci During Capitol Hill Hearing)
Fauci began by saying that it as very common for him and other members of the Coronavirus Task Force to meet with Trump prior to press conferences, and he did not recall instances when the president said things publicly that they had not discussed in the private meetings.
“I may not be tuned in to the right thing they’re talking about, but I didn’t see any discrepancies what he told us and what we told him and what he ultimately came out publicly and said,” Fauci added.
“So did you get a sense that he was or wasn’t playing this down?” Roberts asked directly.
“No. No, no, I didn’t. I didn’t get any sense that he was distorting anything,” Fauci replied. “In my discussions with him, they were always straightforward about the concerns that we had. We related that to him. And when he would go out, I’d hear him discussing the same sort of things.”
Fauci noted that it was possible that the president had said things that could be seen as downplaying the virus, but once again added, “I have not seen that kind of distortion.”
Roberts went on to note that Fauci was actually quoted indirectly in Woodward’s book.
“According to The Washington Post, Fauci at one point tells others that the president, quote, ‘is on a separate channel’ and unfocused in meetings with, quote, ‘rudderless’ leadership, according to Woodward. Quote, ‘His attention span is like a minus number,’ Fauci said. ‘His sole purpose is to get reelected.’ Is that correct?” Roberts asked.
“If you notice, others have said that,” Fauci replied. “You know, you should ask others. I don’t recall that at all. So I mean, in the book — I didn’t read the book.”
Fauci then said that he didn’t want to get involved in a discussion that would distract from the job at hand — dealing with the continued impact of the pandemic.
“So you would question that account?” Roberts pressed.
“Yeah, yeah,” Fauci said.