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Fauci calls White House attempts to discredit him 'bizarre'

"It doesn’t do anything but reflect poorly on them," Fauci said of the administration's efforts.
Dr. Anthony Fauci reacts as U.S. President Donald Trump leaves after his press briefing on the coronavirus at the White House on March 26, 2020.
Dr. Anthony Fauci reacts as President Donald Trump leaves after his press briefing on the coronavirus at the White House on March 26, 2020.Abaca Press / Sipa USA via AP

Dr. Anthony Fauci said Wednesday the White House's attempts to discredit him are "a bit bizarre" and "it doesn’t do anything but reflect poorly on them."

"I cannot figure out in my wildest dreams why they would want to do that. I think they realize now that that was not a prudent thing to do, because it’s only reflecting negatively on them," the government's top infectious disease expert told The Atlantic in an interview, referring to critical comments from an administration official and opposition research-style information the White House released about him over the weekend.

Asked about the government trying to discredit him, Fauci said, "Well, that is a bit bizarre. I sit here and just shrug my shoulders and say, ‘Well, you know, that’s life in the fast lane.’”

He said the collection of comments released by the White House pointing out times he said things about the coronavirus that proved to be inaccurate was "nonsense."

“I stand by everything I said. Contextually, at the time I said it, it was absolutely true,” Fauci said.

A White House official told NBC News on Sunday that “several White House officials are concerned about the number of times Dr. Fauci has been wrong on things.” The comment and the documents came days after President Donald Trump noted that Fauci had made “a lot of mistakes.”

Fauci said he discussed the disclosures with White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows during a meeting on Monday.

“I said that that was not particularly a good thing to do. Ultimately, it hurts the president to do that. When the staff lets out something like that and the entire scientific and press community push back on it, it ultimately hurts the president. And I don’t really want to hurt the president,” Fauci said.

He said Meadows didn’t apologize and maintained he hadn’t known about the effort.

While Trump told reporters this week that he likes Fauci and they get along, White House trade adviser Peter Navarro wrote a blistering op-ed about the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases’ director for USA Today that was published Tuesday night.

“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.

Fauci told The Atlantic “I can’t explain Peter Navarro. He’s in a world by himself. So I don’t even want to go there.”

Trump told reporters Wednesday that Navarro “made a statement representing himself. He shouldn’t be doing that. I have a good relationship with Anthony.”

Fauci said that despite the drama, he has no intention of resigning, citing the ongoing pandemic.

“I think the problem is too important for me to get into those kinds of thoughts and discussions. I just want to do my job. I’m really good at it. I think I can contribute. And I’m going to keep doing it,” he said.