(The Hill) – Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, appeared this week on Chris Wallace’s new streaming show for CNN and bemoaned the challenges he says he faced while crafting messaging around the coronavirus pandemic during former President Donald Trump’s administration.
“How tough was that, dealing with and sharing a podium with a president who … was dispensing misinformation?” Wallace asked Fauci, according to a transcript of their conversation.
“Yes, it was very painful,” Fauci answered. “And that’s the reason why I had to do something that I know alienated a lot of the Trump people, in fact, maybe all of the Trump people. But I had to … go to the podium and say, ‘I’m sorry, I disagree with you.’”
According to Fauci, after he would rebuke Trump’s assertions about pandemic science, treatments and preventive measures, the then-president never took Fauci aside or spoke to him privately about the public disagreements, he said.
“But his staff declared war on me. And war on me was they did sort of opposition research on me and sent out information that I didn’t know what I was talking about,” Fauci told Wallace. “So, my position in the White House became extremely uncomfortable and, in fact, untenable, because I kept on telling the truth.
“And I’m sorry, I can’t agree when you say hydroxychloroquine works. I can’t agree when you say something else works,” he continued. “I can’t agree when you say it’s going to go away tomorrow and disappear like magic. I have to get out the next evening and tell the public ‘No, I’m sorry, I disagree.’”
Fauci became a lightning rod for criticism from conservatives who resisted pandemic restrictions and supporters of Trump during the pandemic. Some congressional Republicans in recent months have called for him to be investigated or fired over his statements and recommendations early during the global outbreak.
Conservative pundits in media, most notable on Fox News, have routinely blasted Fauci and his research while accusing Democrats of using the pandemic to control people’s lives.
Wallace, whom Trump famously soured on near the end of the 2020 presidential campaign, left his longtime gig hosting Fox News Sunday to join CNN+ to host an interview-style show late last year.