Fauci: White House aides' efforts to discredit him 'bizarre,' 'nonsense'

President Donald Trump on Wednesday distanced himself from a USA Today op-ed written by a top White House aide attacking Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top authority on infectious diseases.

"I have a very good relationship with Dr. Fauci and we're all in the same team," Trump said. "We want to get rid of this mess that China sent us."

In the op-ed, top economic adviser Peter Navarro wrote: "[Fauci] has been wrong about everything I have interacted with him on" regarding the coronavirus pandemic.

"I can't explain Peter Navarro. He's in a world by himself," Fauci said in a video interview with The Atlantic. "I wish we didn't have a lot of those distractions, which I think are noise that get in the way but I put that aside, try not to let it bother me and just move ahead."

It was the most recent effort by White House aides to discredit the administration's most visible public health expert.

Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, called those efforts "bizarre" and "nonsense."

"I cannot figure out in my wildest dreams why they would want to do that," Fauci told The Atlantic. "I think they realize now that that was not a prudent thing to do because it’s only reflecting negatively on them." 

In the meantime, Trump continues to push to fully reopen schools.

"They will be open and they'll be open I think relatively on time, hopefully perfectly on time most places," Trump said.

Fauci said he agrees with that on principle but with a big exception.

"You can't treat all schools the same because they're in different phases of the outbreak, depending physically where you are, what city, what state, what county you're in," he told The Atlantic.

Starting Wednesday, the Trump administration is cutting the CDC out of collecting data to track outbreaks around the country. It directed hospitals to report coronavirus patient information directly to a database at the Department of Health and Human Services. Officials said the move increases efficiency. But some public health experts said that could leave the data vulnerable to political manipulation.

CDC Director Robert Redfield continues to raise fears of a nationwide COVID-19 resurgence coinciding with flu season soon after the school year starts.

"I am worried, I do think the fall and winter of 2020 and 2021 are probably going to be one of the most difficult times that we've experienced in American public health," Redfield said.


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