COVID-19: USA

Anthony Fauci denies Trump claim that he misled US public

“We’re in the middle of a crisis with regard to a pandemic,” Fauci said

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US PRESS GROUP

Dr Anthony Fauci insisted on Tuesday he had “not been misleading the American public under any circumstances” – countering a claim by Donald Trump that he had.

The director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases has become a trusted public voice on the coronavirus pandemic.

He was speaking the morning after Sinclair, an influential broadcaster with links to the US president, dropped an interview on a widely syndicated TV show in which the researcher behind the Plandemic conspiracy theory claimed Fauci made the coronavirus and sent it to Wuhan, China.

Also on Monday night, Trump retweeted a series of controversial claims about the pandemic, including a claim on a podcast hosted by the former White House counselor Steve Bannon that Fauci “misled the American public on many issues”.

Asked about the tweets on ABC News’ Good Morning America, Fauci said: “I don’t tweet, I don’t even read them. I don’t really want to go there. I just will continue to do my job, no matter what comes out, because I think it’s very important.”

Fauci, 79, has served six presidents since 1984. He has nonetheless been criticized and marginalized by Trump.

“We’re in the middle of a crisis with regard to a pandemic,” Fauci said. “This is what I do. This is what I’ve been trained for my entire professional life and I’ll continue to do it.

“I have not been misleading the American public under any circumstances.”

Fauci also rejected Trump’s continued support for the use of an anti-malarial drug, hydroxychloroquine, and other unproven treatments for Covid-19.

On Monday night, Trump retweeted a complaint about YouTube, Facebook and Twitter’s decision to ban a viral video from the far-right Breitbart News in which people claiming to be doctors made unsubstantiated claims about supposed cures for the virus.

“The overwhelming prevailing clinical trials that have looked at the efficacy of hydroxychloroquine have indicated that it is not effective in coronavirus disease,” Fauci said.

According to researchers at Johns Hopkins University, the US has recorded nearly 4.3m cases of Covid-19 and nearly 150,000 people have died. Cases have surged in southern and western states which sought to reopen their economies in May.

The interview dropped by Sinclair was between Eric Bolling, a former Fox News host, and Judy Mikovits. The broadcaster originally postponed it after segments were posted online.

“Upon further review, we have decided not to air the interview with Dr Mikovits,” Sinclair said on Monday. “Although the segment did include an expert to dispute Dr Mikovits, given the nature of the theories she presented we believe it is not appropriate to air the interview.”

Anthony Fauci throws the ceremonial first pitch before the start of the opening day baseball game between the New York Yankees and Washington Nationals in Washington on Thursday.
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Anthony Fauci throws the ceremonial first pitch before the start of a baseball game between the New York Yankees and Washington Nationals on Thursday. Photograph: Alex Brandon/AP
Sinclair owns TV stations across the US. Its chairman, David D Smith, has said that in 2016 he told Trump: “We are here to deliver your message.”

Sinclair said it reiterated its “appreciation for all that Dr Fauci and his team have accomplished for the health and wellbeing of Americans and people worldwide.

“During this pandemic, Sinclair and its affiliates have positively and prominently featured Dr Fauci on air … there remains an open invite for Dr Fauci to appear on our stations any time.”

Bolling, who interviewed Mikovits and lawyer Larry Klayman – described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as “a pathologically litigious attorney and professional gadfly” – said he had challenged the claim about Fauci on air and added an opposing voice, Dr Nicole Saphier, for balance.

Saphier, a Fox News contributor, said it was “highly unlikely” Fauci made the coronavirus but also said it was possible the virus was made in a laboratory. Trump allies have pushed that claim in attempting to blame China for America’s plight. Experts agree the virus originated in a wet market, where wild animals are sold for food.

Trump’s relationship with Fauci has been a source of constant speculation and fascination. The New York Times reported Monday that Trump was so angered by Fauci being invited to throw out a pitch by the Washington Nationals baseball team that he claimed to have been invited to do the same by the New York Yankees.

No such invitation had been made, leading aides to scramble to save face.

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