• Disagreement between Trump and health officials as virus rages
• The president refuses to take the advise of experts
• Trump’s handling of the virus causes his re- election prospect to dim
Five months into a still-raging pandemic that has killed more than 130,000 Americans, the long-simmering tensions between President Trump and the health experts who staff his government have escalated from private griping to shrugging disagreement to now open dispute.
Trump now in open dispute with health officials as virus spread
The result, people at those agencies say, is a new sense of demoralization as they continue their attempts to fight a once-in-a-generation health crisis while simultaneously navigating the whims on president Trump who has shown little interest or understanding of their work.
That president Trump does not trust nor follow the advice of experts such as Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease specialist, is hardly new. The President has not attended a meeting of his coronavirus task force in months and recently its sessions have been held outside the White House, including on Wednesday 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.
Trump rejects the advise of experts
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said later that it’s a “decision for the task force” who appears at coronavirus briefings. Asked if the President still has confidence in Fauci, McEnany said only that Trump “has confidence in the conclusions of our medical experts.”
Still, the President has complained to aides in meetings for months that Fauci’s television appearances — which have been sharply curtailed by the White House — often seem to contradict his own message. As early as March, Trump was growing frustrated that Fauci’s forecasts for the virus seemed less optimistic than his own, but largely avoided public rebukes.
At the same time, many of Trump’s aides 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months, believing its role in early testing missteps to have been a critical failure and viewing more recent leaks of draft guidance from the agency as attempts to circumvent the White House.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 country and Trump’s handling of the crisis causes his reelection prospects to dim, he is taking his quarrels with Fauci and the CDC 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 continue setting records and other countries bar Americans from entry.
Trump’s approach to the virus causes his re- election hope to dim
Instead, Trump is signaling that after months of internal disputes and private griping about the agencies and officials tasked with combating the virus, he is now prepared to openly question their authority and undermine their advice.
“I think we are in a good place. I disagree with him,” Trump said in an interview on Tuesday when questioned about Fauci’s assertion the US is still “knee-deep in the first wave” of the pandemic.
Trump accused Fauci of waffling on early decisions in the crisis, saying he was better off ignoring experts and trusting his instincts.