President Donald Trump called Dr. Anthony Fauci “a little bit of an alarmist” on Sunday as the coronavirus pandemic worsens and the nation’s top infectious disease expert urges elected officials to implement more health safety measures.
In an interview on “Fox News Sunday,” Trump also defended his relationship with Fauci, which has been in the spotlight in recent days after a series of comments by the president and moves by the White House raised questions about Fauci’s standing with the administration amid the crisis.
“Dr. Fauci’s made some mistakes, but I have a very good — I spoke to him yesterday at length — I have a very good relationship with Dr. Fauci,” Trump said. “He’s a little bit of an alarmist — that’s OK.”
Trump in the interview listed several “mistakes” he said Fauci has made in recent months, including his original stance on the wearing of masks.
Fauci early in the pandemic had asked the public not to go out and buy the N95 masks because they were needed by health professionals. He has now strongly advocated for people to wear some type of face coverage, and last week urged governors and mayors to “be as forceful as possible” to get people to wear face coverings.
During the Sunday interview, Trump ultimately admitted that he himself had made some mistakes in the coronavirus response but said he would “be right eventually.”
When host Chris Wallace asked if Trump’s errors discredited him, the president said he didn’t think so, claiming he has “been right probably more than anybody else.”
Last Wednesday, after going more than a month without speaking, Trump had a phone conversation with Fauci, who came under withering attack by Trump’s top aides for days before the discussion.
Among the attacks was an opinion article penned last week by Peter Navarro, the senior White House trade official, trashing Fauci. The White House also insisted last Monday that it was not compiling opposition research on Fauci, despite sending a compilation of times they claimed he was “wrong” to reporters the previous the weekend.
Speaking to The Atlantic last week, Fauci called White House attacks on him “bizarre” and said they ultimately damaged Trump.
“I cannot figure out in my wildest dreams why they would want to do that,” he said. “I think they realize now that that was not a prudent thing to do, because it’s only reflecting negatively on them.”