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US Disease Chief Fauci Calls White House's Attempts to Discredit Him 'Bizarre'

White House's tensions with Fauci have risen with the decline of Trump’s popularity in opinion polls over the president’s handling of the outbreak.

Washington: US infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci on Wednesday called the White House effort to discredit him bizarre” and urged an end to the divisiveness over the country’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. He requested the country to stop this nonsense.

Fauci, who has become a popular and trusted figure during the coronavirus outbreak, came under criticism from President Donald Trump and some of his Republican allies as Fauci cautioned against reopening the US economy too soon.

The recent spike in coronavirus infections, primarily in states that were among the earliest to lift coronavirus restrictions, put Fauci on a collision course with the White House.

“One of the things that are part of the problem is the dynamics of the divisiveness that is going on now. It becomes difficult to engage in a dialogue of honest evaluation of what’s gone right and what’s gone wrong,” Fauci told The Atlantic in an interview.

“We’ve got to own this, reset this and say OK, let’s stop this nonsense and figure out how can we get our control over this now.”

The White House over the weekend distributed a list of statements Fauci made early in the pandemic that turned out to be wrong as an understanding of the pandemic, according to media reports. Trump said that this week he valued Fauci‘s input but did not always agree with him.

“You know, it is a bit bizarre. I don’t really fully understand it,” Fauci said in an interview with The Atlantic.

He said that he believed the people who released that list. However, the list was misleading since it did not manifest his actual comments. The list was incomplete and certain points were taken out of context. He added that he was “taken aback by what a big mistake that was.”

Also read: President Trump, the Pandemic and the Politics of the 2020 US Poll

White House’s tensions with Fauci have risen with the decline of Trump’s popularity in opinion polls over the president’s handling of the outbreak.

The Republican president, who is seeking re-election in November, has been increasingly critical of government health officials and their guidance, whilst a rise in infections threatens the easing of shutdown restrictions across the country. Across the country, there are around 60,000 new cases every day.

The White House has denied that Fauci has been sidelined. However, White House trade adviser Peter Navarro wrote a critical opinion piece attacking Fauci for having made mistakes.

Before departing for a trip to Atlanta, Trump was asked whether Navarro had gone rogue.

“Well, he made a statement representing himself. He shouldn’t be doing that. No, I have a very good relationship with Anthony,” Trump said.

Fauci told The Atlantic: “I can’t explain Peter Navarro. He’s in a world by himself. So I don’t even want to go there.”

Fauci said in a Financial Times interview last week that he had not briefed Trump in two months. He said on Wednesday that his advice is passed to Trump indirectly, via Vice President Mike Pence, who heads the White House coronavirus task force.

In his Atlantic interview, Fauci recommended that the country should hit a reset button and acknowledge that things are not going in the right direction. The rising number of coronavirus infections show, “we’ve got to do better” and shows the need to get on the same page and work on ways to control the virus.

“So, rather than these games people are playing, let’s focus on that,” Fauci said.

(Reuters)