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How Dr. Fauci went from top doctor to shunned by White House

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Dr. Anthony Fauci was announced as a member of the White House coronavirus task force on January 31. Fauci emerged early on as the widely recognized face of the US coronavirus response, offering sober forecasts and prevention recommendations as Trump largely downplayed the threat of the virus (and even floated conspiracy theories and unproven cures).

However, in recent months, Fauci appears to have been sidelined by the White House as the coronavirus response has grown politically charged. President Donald Trump’s administration was even reported to be attempting to discredit the infectious disease expert as states across the US are experiencing large surges in outbreaks of the virus. 

Here’s a timeline of the reported decline in the relationship between the infectious disease expert and the White House:

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  • Two months after announcing the task force as the administration was ramping up its response amid rising outbreaks across the country, Trump praised Fauci at a March 13 press briefing, calling him “Tony” and saying the expert was “doing a tremendous job working long, long hours.”
  • By early April, reports began to surface that indicated Fauci and Trump’s relationship had begun to sour. 
  • On April 12, Fauci told CNN that “no one is going to deny” the US could have saved lives by instituting containment measures earlier on in the pandemic based on prior warnings from public-health experts.
  • Later that day, Trump retweeted a post that included the hashtag “#Fire Fauci,” which raised alarms that the public-health expert could be the latest in a line of administration officials ousted by the president.
  • Fauci later walked back his comment and defended Trump’s record with the coronavirus response. 
  • Following a May 4 interview on CNN, Fauci was noticeably absent from public appearances for about two weeks, before a May 21 town hall on CNN, where he said the public would “probably be seeing a little bit more” of him.
  • On June 1, CNN reported that Fauci said he hadn’t spoken to Trump in two weeks.
  • As cases surged across the US in June and Trump continued to downplay outbreaks, Fauci found other platforms to speak out on the state of the country through other outlets.
  • “As a country, when you compare us to other countries, I don’t think you can say we’re doing great,” he said on a FiveThirtyEight podcast aired July 9. “I mean, we’re just not.”
  • In an interview with the Financial Times published on July 10, Fauci revealed he hadn’t seen the president since June 2 and hadn’t briefed him in at least two months, though he continued meetings with the task force. 
  • Fauci’s apparently distant relationship with the White House took a turn in mid-July when an unnamed White House official told CNN that the administration had drawn up a list of “wrong” things Fauci had said in February and March that have since been scrapped from his recommendations for Americans.
  • Peter Navarro, a trade adviser for Trump, told the Post in a statement on Fauci’s distance from the White House that while “Dr. Fauci has a good bedside manner with the public, but he has been wrong about everything I have ever interacted with him on.”
  • Press secretary Kayleigh McEnany bat down reports characterizing Trump and Fauci as at odds, saying at a July 13 press briefing that “the notion of opposition research and ‘Fauci versus the president’ couldn’t be further from the truth,” and the two “have a good working relationship.”
  • Trump echoed McEnany, telling reporters later that day he has a “very good relationship” with Fauci and does not intend to fire him. 
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