- The Washington Times - Monday, July 13, 2020

President Trump and Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health have a “good working relationship,” the White House said Monday amid signs the administration is dinging the trusted expert for perceived errors during the coronavirus pandemic.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said the president still appreciates the advice Dr. Fauci gives, though she said Mr. Trump takes the “full opinions” of the coronavirus task force from an array of experts.

Asked directly hours later, Mr. Trump told reporters he gets along with the doctor “very well.”

“I like him, personally,” Mr. Trump said.

The president said he “doesn’t always agree with him,” however, suggesting the doctor was opposed to his ban on China.

Their comments come after Mr. Trump’s advisers anonymously provided information about Dr. Fauci, suggesting he’d been wrong about the course of the pandemic. For instance, in late February he said people didn’t have to behave differently, though did say that could change.

Ms. McEnany said the points about Dr. Fauci were provided in response to a query from The Washington Post, and not as an underhanded attempt to smear him.

“We provided a direct response to a direct question,” she said.

The debate around Dr. Fauci comes as he’s increasingly vocal about surging cases in the South and West, even noting the U.S. is faring poorly compared to other nations.

Ms. McEnany defended the federal response, noting the U.S. is doing the “most testing in the world.”

“When you lead the world in testing, that means that you identify more cases,” she said.

Ms. Enany described the flare-ups in some states as “embers” and defended Mr. Trump’s push to reopen schools this fall.

She said ongoing closures would be even more harmful to children’s health, citing teachers who report child abuse in the home and provide mental health services.

Ms. Enany described teachers as “essential workers” who can be protected from the virus, putting them in the same sphere as meat-packing workers and reporters who are still in the field.

The press secretary also addressed a retweet from Mr. Trump that suggested the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had been lying about the pandemic.

She said he was referring to rogue employees who leaked CDC guidelines before they were finalized.

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