Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, spoke out this week about the stark differences in serving under former President Donald Trump and President Joe Biden, describing it as a “liberating” experience.
Fauci, who served on Trump’s coronavirus task force and now serves as Chief Medical Advisor to Biden, discussed the differences between the two administrations during a press briefing on Thursday, noting how scientific evidence and discussion was more welcomed under the new president.
“It’s obviously a very different situation. It’s complete transparency. Nobody is telling you what to say, at all,” Fauci explained. “They are just saying go out there and let the data guide you on what you are saying.”
Fauci cited the promotion of an untested and unverified malaria drug, described by Trump as a “game-changer” in the fight against coronavirus (with no evidence to show for it), as one example of how things were under the previous administration.
“It was very clear that there were things that were said, be it regarding things like hydroxychloroquine and other things like that — that really was uncomfortable because they were not based on scientific fact,” Fauci said.
Under Trump, Fauci took “no pleasure at all in being in a situation of contradicting the president,” and didn’t “feel that you could actually say something and there wouldn’t be any repercussions about it.” He admitted that he sometimes “got in trouble” sometimes for speaking his mind.
Meanwhile, under Biden, Fauci described his newfound freedom to speak up and express views based on science as “somewhat of a liberating feeling.”
During CNN’s “New Day” program on Friday morning, Fauci affirmed that the Trump administration’s promotion of cures and treatments lacking scientific evidence cost lives.
“When you’re in the situation of almost being in a crisis with the number of cases and hospitalizations and deaths that we have — when you start talking about things that make no sense medically and no sense scientifically, that clearly is not helpful,” Fauci told CNN.
Fauci was frequently seen beside Trump during press briefings in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, and became a trusted figure in the administration among the American populace. But contradictions between statements made by Fauci and Trump soon became evident, including in April when reporters asked the infectious diseases expert for his opinion on hydroxychloroquine multiple times. During one press briefing, Trump stepped in and answered for Fauci, sternly telling reporters, “He’s answered that question 15 times.”
In July, Trump officials attempted to launch a smear campaign against Fauci, which included a critical op-ed by White House aide Peter Navarro.
“It’s nonsense. It’s completely wrong. The whole thing is wrong. The whole thing is incorrect,” Fauci said about the attacks made against him.
The smear campaign eventually failed, and for the remainder of his term, Trump largely ignored or avoided Fauci.
In spite of the disagreements between Trump and Fauci, the American people largely approved of how the latter conducted himself during the pandemic. Results from a CNBC/Change Research poll published just before Election Day found that 72 percent of Americans approved of how Fauci handled the crisis, while only 41 percent said they gave approving marks to Trump.
Coronavirus remains a deadly pandemic in the United States. As of 9 a.m. Eastern Time on Friday, 24.6 million Americans have received positive diagnoses of coronavirus, with more than 410,000 having died from the disease so far.
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