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Fauci on Trump: 'I Can't Jump in Front of the Microphone'

But he says Trump does listen to him on 'substantive' coronavirus issues
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 23, 2020 9:40 AM CDT

(Newser) – Dr. Anthony Fauci has become an important White House voice on the coronavirus outbreak, and he gave a candid interview to Science about his disagreements with President Trump. One line in particular is getting attention, and it came after Fauci was asked about standing at the podium with Trump when the president says something he thinks is wrong. (In this case, it was when Trump said China could have revealed the discovery of the virus a few months before it did):

  • "I can't jump in front of the microphone and push him down. OK, he said it. Let's try and get it corrected for the next time."
  • Another: "When you're dealing with the White House, sometimes you have to say things one, two, three, four times, and then it happens. So I'm going to keep pushing." (In regard to his plea to stop the handshaking at briefings.)

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However, Fauci makes clear that he and Trump are not as far apart as people might think. "To his credit, even though we disagree on some things, he listens," says Fauci. "He goes his own way. ... but on substantive issues, he does listen to what I say." (On Monday, the New York Times cited two sources in reporting that Trump "has become frustrated with Dr. Fauci's blunt approach at the briefing lectern.") On another topic—the need for shelter-in-place orders—Fauci had a nuanced view. Asked whether it was a mistake that no such national mandate was in place, he said, "No, I don't think we could say it's a mistake or not a mistake" because it's "a delicate balance. ... If you knock down the economy completely and disrupt infrastructure, you may be causing health issues, unintended consequences ... You do the best you can." (Trump signaled Monday he's wary of a prolonged shutdown.)

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