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White House claims it didn’t sign off on Peter Navarro’s anti-Fauci op-ed

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  • The White House says that top presidential aide Peter Navarro violated protocol and didn’t receive official sign-off before publishing a Tuesday op-ed in USA Today attacking Dr. Anthony Fauci. 
  • “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, a trade adviser to President Donald Trump, wrote
  • The White House released a statement on Wednesday morning distancing the president from Navarro’s op-ed and claiming that Trump “values the expertise of the medical professionals advising his Administration.” 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The White House says that top presidential aide Peter Navarro violated protocol and didn’t receive official sign-off before publishing a Tuesday op-ed in USA Today attacking Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert who’s helping lead the administration’s coronavirus response. 

“Dr. Anthony Fauci has a good bedside manner with the public, but he has been wrong about everything I have interacted with him on,” wrote Navarro, who advises President Donald Trump on trade and manufacturing. “When you ask me whether I listen to Dr. Fauci’s advice, my answer is: only with skepticism and caution.”

Navarro said that Fauci initially opposed the president’s decision to halt most travel from China in late January and said the veteran public health expert recklessly downplayed the risk of Covid-19 to the American public and discouraged the use of face masks in the early months of the crisis. 

The presidential adviser failed to mention that Trump aggressively minimized the threat of the coronavirus to the American public for months, even claiming in late February that cases “within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero.” Navarro also didn’t mention that Trump has actively discouraged the use of face coverings, refusing to wear one himself until last weekend, and hasn’t mandated face masks at his recent campaign rallies. 

The White House released a statement on Wednesday morning distancing the president from Navarro’s op-ed and claiming that Trump “values the expertise of the medical professionals advising his Administration.” 

“The Peter Navarro op-ed didn’t go through normal White House clearance processes and is the opinion of Peter alone,” Alyssa Farah, the White House Director of Strategic Communications, tweeted Wednesday morning.

A host of reporters argued on Twitter that Navarro’s decision to bypass White House protocol and publish an op-ed attacking the federal government’s top infectious disease expert would have gotten him immediately fired in any other recent administration. They suggested that Navarro must have gotten Trump’s sign-off to attack Fauci if he’s able to keep his White House job.

This comes as a host of White House officials have ramped up attacks on Fauci, who has been publicly critical of aspects of the president’s coronavirus response. Trump told Fox host Sean Hannity recently that Fauci “is a nice man, but he’s made a lot of mistakes.”

On Monday night, Dan Scavino, Trump’s longtime aide and deputy chief of staff for communications, posted a cartoon on his Facebook page mocking Fauci. 

And over the weekend, the White House sent reporters an anonymous statement attacking Fauci and listing what it said were incorrect statements the public health expert made earlier this year about the pandemic.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany insisted on Monday that “Dr. Fauci and the president have always had a very good working relationship.”

Fauci hasn’t been permitted to brief the president in person in over two months and hasn’t met with him since June 2. 

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