Daily US Times: Five months into a still-raging pandemic, the long-simmering tensions between President Donald Trump and the health officials who also members of his government have escalated from private griping to shrugging disagreement to now open dispute. The pandemic has killed more than 130,000 Americans so far.
People at those agencies say, as a result of this, there is a new sense of demoralization as they continue their attempts to fight the health crisis while simultaneously navigating the whims of a President who has shown little interest or understanding of their work
Trump does not trust or follow the advice of experts such as the nation’s top infectious disease specialist Dr. Anthony Fauci.
Dispute with health officials is not new for him. He has not attended a meeting of his coronavirus task force in months and recently its sessions have been held outside the White House. On Wednesday, it was held at the headquarters of the Department of Education. Fauci was told to participate in the meeting remotely by videoconference, preventing him from participating in a midday task force press briefing.
Kayleigh McEnany, White House press secretary, said later that it’s a “decision for the task force” who appears at coronavirus briefings.
McEnany said only that Trump “has confidence in the conclusions of our medical experts”, when she was asked if the President still has confidence in Fauci.
The President has still complained to aides in meetings for months that Fauci’s television appearances often seem to contradict his own message. Trump was growing frustrated as early as March that Fauci’s forecasts for the virus seemed less optimistic than his own but largely avoided public rebukes.
Many of Trump’s aides at the same time have viewed the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention with deep skepticism for months, believing its role in early testing missteps to have been a critical failure and viewing more recent leaks of draft guidance from the agency as attempts to circumvent the White House.
Yet as cases surge across the nation and Trump’s handling of the crisis causes his reelection prospects to dim, the president is taking his quarrels with the CDC and Fauci public in striking new fashion.
The development bodes poorly for those hoping the federal government’s response to the virus will become more coordinated as daily case counts to the mountain and other countries bar Americans from entry.
Instead, Trump is signaling that after months of internal disputes and private griping about the officials tasked with combating the virus and agencies, he is now prepared to openly question their authority and undermine their advice.
When questioned about Fauci’s assertion the US is still “knee-deep in the first wave” of the pandemic, Trump said: “I think we are in a good place. I disagree with him.”
In an interview on Tuesday, Trump accused Fauci of waffling on early decisions in the crisis, saying he was better off ignoring experts and trusting his instincts.
“Dr. Fauci said don’t wear masks and now he says to wear them,” Mr Trump told Gray Television’s Greta Van Susteren. “And he said numerous things. Don’t close off China. Don’t ban China. I did it anyway. I didn’t listen to my experts and I banned China. We would have been in much worse shape. You wouldn’t believe the number of deaths more we would have had if we didn’t do the ban.”
Trump’s criticisms of Fauci don’t hold up entirely. Fauci did suggest not to wear masks, but that was due largely to a nationwide shortage of them, and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director publicly backed the ban on travel from China when it was announced.
Still, Trump’s criticism of Fauci reflects his conviction that the health experts who he assembled early in the pandemic have steered him wrong, a view that’s been fanned by some in the conservative media who have accused Fauci and others in the administration as imposing draconian lockdown measures despite being unelected officials.
Trump accused the CDC of producing “very tough & expensive guidelines for opening schools,” saying he disagreed with the health agency’s recommendations.
Hw wrote: “While they want them open, they are asking schools to do very impractical things. I will be meeting with them!!!”
As Trump’s dispute with health officials became public, cases in the US is rising and setting new records.