White House press secretary Jen Psaki says any disconnect between Dr. Anthony Fauci‘s private and public comments since the COVID-19 pandemic began won’t hurt his reputation with President Biden.
Ms. Psaki made the comments Thursday after reporters asked about the NIH director’s emails, which were obtained by Buzzfeed News through Freedom of Information Act requests.
“Given that there were some things that Fauci said privately that contrasted what he said publicly — whether it was [with] masks or whether or not someone who had the virus could have immunity — or, you know, other questions as well, does [Mr. Biden] still have confidence in his NIH director,” a reporter asked. “Does this change anything at all?”
“The president and the administration feel that Dr. Fauci has played an incredible role in getting the pandemic under control,” Ms. Psaki replied. Dr. Fauci has been “a voice to the public throughout the course of this pandemic.”
The president’s spokeswoman then suggested that any conflict between the doctor’s public and private COVID-19 messaging is irrelevant if it happened in 2020, under President Trump.
“Again, I would reiterate, a lot of these emails are from 17 months ago or more, certainly predating this administration, but some time ago,” Ms. Psaki said.
She declined to speak on thew merits of the issues though, saying it would be “obviously not that advantageous for me to re-litigate the substance of emails from 17 months ago.”
Dr. Fauci has insisted that he has been an exemplar of integrity during the course of the pandemic. His critics say he lied or obfuscated on issues pertaining to the efficacy of masks or the contagion’s possible origin.
“As you can see, emails that have been released now under Freedom of Information Act show two very important things: FAUCI has been lying. I’ve been right all along,” Sen. Rand Paul, for example, wrote to supporters Wednesday as news of the emails spread.
The Kentucky Republican has sparred with Dr. Fauci at multiple U.S. Senate hearings on the pandemic, regarding such matters as masking and gain-of-function research conducted at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, at the epicenter of the global pandemic.