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Dr. Fauci Doesn't Make Monday's Press Briefing After Correcting Trump Repeatedly

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Dr. Fauci Doesn't Make Monday's Press Briefing After Correcting Trump Repeatedly

2020-03-24 18:28:451 Oct 2018 01:53 AM EST

By Laura Tucker, Staff writer; Image: Anthony Fauci (Image source: Screenshot)

Coronavirus COVID-19 has made a media star out of Dr. Anthony Fauci, despite the decades he has been with the White House as an adviser. Faced with the pandemic, Donald Trump invites him to the press briefings, but he was missing during Monday's briefing, with some being concerned the president doesn't appreciate the doctor correcting him. 

Trump has had praise for Fauci, though, calling him a "major television star" and even showed how he was being given cart blanche to talk about COVID-19. He often refers to the doctor's opinion when discussing the coronavirus.

As the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984, Fauci first started working with the White during the Reagan administration. It was he and Surgeon General C. Everett Koop who were credited with convincing the administration to take action against AIDS. 

He recognized that Trump needs to be credited and has been complimentary of him. He said on Fox News, "I can't imagine that under any circumstances that anybody could be doing more," with regard to the president.

Yet, Fauci is also being more upfront about correcting Trump's false statements and comments that paint a picture that is perhaps overly optimistic. This has made his a media darling, and Trump's patience with him could be running out. 

White House advisers could be losing patience with Fauci as well. They have witnessed him going against Trump in interviews that will appear in print while praising him in interviews with conservative television hosts.

Trump is aware that the doctor is seen as credible with the public and journalists because of his long tenure with the White House, so he's given him leeway, more so than other officials have been given, according to some of his advisers.  

Despite being known for multiple firings of his officials and advisers, the president recognizes keeping him as an adviser will do more good than eliminating him.

Yet, he wasn't in the briefing room when Trump spoke on Monday. The president explained he had just been with the doctor at a task force meeting for "a long time." When officials were asked why Fauci wasn't there, they said they were rotating officials who are visible at the briefings. 

"He's a good man," Trump said of Fauci, who was scheduled to be interviewed by Fox News host Sean Hannity a short time later.

But this doesn't change the fact that Trump is still not discussing COVID-19 in the same critical way that Fauci and other public health experts do. In fact, he's been criticized for giving false hope to the nation. 

Two topics Fauci and Trump disagreed on in public was how long it will take for a vaccine to become available for COVID-19 and whether anti-malaria drug chloroquine could be part of a cure. Fauci is not putting as much stake in using chloroquine as Trump is. And most experts say a vaccine will be available in a year to a year and a half at best, but Trump keeps stating there will be one available very soon.

Asked in a Science Magazine interview how he has managed to not get fired, Fauci said, to Trump's "credit," while they may disagree sometimes, the president does listen. "He goes his own way. He has his own style. But on substantive issues, he does listen to what I say." 

Yet, he also added there's a limit to what he can do when Trump makes a false statement. "I can't jump in front of the microphone and push him down," he reasoned. "Okay, he said it. Let's try and get it corrected for the next time."

Sunday on an appearance on CBS's "Face the Nation," Fauci gave little weight to the idea there is a rift between him and Trump, saying, "There isn't fundamentally a difference there." 

"The president has heard, as we all have heard, what are what I call anecdotal reports that certain drugs work. So what he was trying to do and express was the hope that if they might work, let's try and push their usage," he continued.

"I, on the other side, have said I'm not disagreeing with the fact anecdotally they might work, but my job is to prove definitively from a scientific standpoint that they do work. So I was taking a purely medical, scientific standpoint, and the president was trying to bring hope to the people." 

Asked about the moment in the briefing room when he appeared to be suppressing laughter with his hand to his face when Trump referred to the "Deep State Department," Fauci claimed he had a throat lozenge in his mouth, had gotten it stuck in his throat, and was trying to hide that from the press.

He also allowed that when examining if he and Trump are at odds, "I think, there's this issue of trying to separate the two of us." 

On Tuesday Fauci was back in the briefing room.

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