Trump Deflects When Pressed on Dr. Fauci’s Opinion About Restarting the Economy in Next Few Weeks: ‘He Doesn’t Not Agree’ With Me
President Donald Trump offered up a cryptic, defensive answer when pressed on whether or not his administration’s infectious diseases expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, is on board with the idea of winding down the rigid social distancing rules and restarting the economy in the next one or two weeks.
Trump was put on the spot during the Q & A portion of the Monday’s coronavirus task force press briefing because Fauci himself did not attend. Fauci’s notable absence came just one day after he gave several unflattering comments about the president in an interview, in which the public health expect acknowledged his helplessness in the face of Trump’s repeated false statements and unproven assertions about the pandemic.
In response to a question asking where Fauci was, Trump said Fauci was attending a simultaneous meeting of the task force — even as other key medical and political members of the task force, like Dr. Deborah Birx and Vice President Mike Pence, stood beside him.
“Does he agree with you about the need to reopen the economy soon?” a reporter asked, alluding to a new narrative among Trump and other White House economic advisers that the “cure” of an economic depression caused by widespread social distancing must not be worse than the “problem” of potentially millions of lives lost. This signal that the White House might no longer deem extreme virus mitigation efforts necessary in the very near future contradicts Trump’s own comments from last week, where he warned that the outbreak could easily last until July or August.
“He doesn’t not agree,” Trump answered in a classic, non-answer, when asked about Fauci’s take on a such an accelerated timeline for returning to business as usual. “He understands there is a tremendous cost to our country both in terms of lives and in terms of economics and in terms of many, many years of rebuilding something that was a fine-tuned machine.”
“It was nobody’s fault. It just happened. This horrible virus came from wherever and it just happened,” Trump went on to say. “He fully understands that. No, he’s a good man. I like Dr. Fauci a lot, just so you understand. No, he’s is not here because we are discussing what he is best at, but he’ll be back up very soon. And we’ll be discussing dates and time with him very soon.
Earlier in the day. the Washington Post had reported that Fauci was very much not in agreement, however, and had warned the White House and Republicans that prematurely ending the virus mitigation efforts and letting people go back to work could allow the outbreak to surge again and eventually “devastate U.S. hospitals.”
When asked a follow-up question about if he would take Dr. Fauci’s recommendation on when to restart the economy, Trump again hedged
“It is very important to me and I will be listening to him,” he said. “We have a lot of people very good at this and ultimately, it’s a balancing act. But the expression ‘we can do two things at one time,’ and we have an incredible country and that we have to keep it that way and that includes not just economics, that also includes life and death. We have to keep it that way.”
Watch the video above, via Fox News.
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