White House trade adviser Peter Navarro tore into Dr. Anthony Fauci in a stunning op-ed on Wednesday, saying the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director, who has been a leading voice on the Coronavirus Task Force, has been “wrong about everything.”
“Dr. Anthony Fauci has a good bedside manner with the public, but he has been wrong about everything I have interacted with him on,” Navarro wrote in a blistering op-ed for USA Today.
Navarro began by saying that Fauci “fought against” Trump’s “courageous decision” in late January to suspend flights from China as the novel coronavirus began to spread, arguing that that decision “might well have saved hundreds of thousands of American lives.”
He continued: “When I warned in late January in a memo of a possibly deadly pandemic, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases was telling our news media not to worry.”
Further, he wrote that in February, “Fauci was telling the public the China virus was low risk.” Navarro went on to complain Fauci was “flip-flopping on the use of masks.”
He dinged Fauci for downplaying falling mortality rates, amid the debate over whether businesses should be allowed to reopen or stay shuttered. Navarro added: “So when you ask me whether I listen to Dr. Fauci’s advice my answer is: only with skepticism and caution.”
Navarro’s comments come as tensions have been bubbling between the White House and Fauci. Officials have reportedly been concerned about the number of times Fauci has “been wrong on things,” according to a report last week.
A senior administration official, though, told Fox News that Navarro’s op-ed slamming Fauci was “definitely not approved by the White House.”
Another White House official told Fox News that Navarro is “going rogue.”
Alyssa Farah, White House director of strategic communications, said on Twitter that the piece “didn’t go through normal White House clearance processes and is the opinion of Peter alone.”
She said President Trump “values the expertise of the medical professionals advising his Administration.”
Trump, on his part, has said Fauci is “a nice man, but he’s made a lot of mistakes,” and has criticized him for his back-and-forth guidance over masks.
“I disagree with him. You know, Dr. Fauci said ‘don’t wear masks,’ and now he says ‘wear them.’ And you know, he’s said numerous things,” Trump said in an interview last week with Greta Van Susteren. “‘Don’t close off China. Don’t ban China.’ And I did it anyway.”
He added: “I sort of didn’t listen to my experts and I banned China.”
The president last week also said he had a “very good relationship” with Fauci, while saying: “I don’t always agree with him.”
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, during an interview on “Fox & Friends” on Monday, described Fauci as representing “one viewpoint within the administration.”
“The point of the task force is to be a whole of government look at what is best for this country,” she said. “That includes Dr. Fauci’s opinion…Ultimately, those conclusions are taken to the president.”
McEnany added: “Dr. Fauci is one member of a team, but rest-assured his viewpoint is represented and the information gets to the president through the task force.”
Fox News’ Kristin Fisher contributed to this report.