President Donald Trump was set to debut his rebooted coronavirus briefings Tuesday, amid a new round of drama about which government medical experts would accompany him.
With just hours before the 5pm briefing was set to begin, a key task force member, Surgeon General Jerome Adams, was not yet certain who would attend – and whether Dr. Anthony Fauci would be included.
‘They’re still figuring out that out. I know that as they resume we will be there in our different roles,’ he told CBS ‘This Morning.’
President Donald Trump may be flying solo at the return to his coronavirus briefings Tuesday, with no task force members yet signed up to join him
White House coronavirus response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx has sometimes appeared with Trump even in Dr. Fauci’s absence
‘They’re still figuring out that out,’ said Surgeon General Jeome Powell when asked whether he or Dr. Faucu would attend a briefing just hours away
‘As folks know I’m a strong advocate for making sure we are promoting the awareness of the impact on communities of color , particularly African Americans and particularly Hispanics,’ he continued, without providing more information.
He was asked whether he, Fauci, or task force coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx would attend the briefing.
Fauci has taken to the airwaves to defend himself, even if he doesn’t make it to Tuesday’s briefing.
On Monday evening, he responded to Trump’s claim that he was ‘a little bit of an alarmist.’
‘I consider myself a realist, as opposed to an alarmist,’ he said in an Instagram live interview with Maria Shriver.
‘I’m a realist but I’m also an optimist,’ he said.
He also agreed that Trump’s characterization of him was unfair, though he stated it in his typically self-effacing manner.
‘I believe so, but then again, others have different opinions,’ Fauci said.
President Trump touted the return of the briefings Monday at the White House – after seeing his approval rating slide amid mounting U.S. infections and deaths due to the coronavirus.
‘We’re going to give you a lot of briefings in the next week and over the next few weeks as to – I think it’s very important to do it,’ Trump said while speaking to the press following his Oval Office meeting with Republican leadership.
Dr. Anthony Fauci said Tuesday morning he hadn’t heard whether he would be attending Tuesday’s briefing
In this April 17, 2020, file photo Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, about the coronavirus, as President Donald Trump listens, in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington
Trump stopped showing up to the near-daily press conferences after after one update in the White House briefing room went off the rails after Trump suggested injecting bleach or light into the body as a potential treatment for coronavirus.
Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, also appeared to be in the dark about whether he would attend the briefing.
‘I would imagine that I would be at least in on some of them, but we have not heard anything definitive yet,’ he told NPR. ‘I mean, if they want me there, I’ll be more than happy to be there,’ he said.
Complicating the drama, Vice President Mike Pence, a usual presence, and the figure who has led briefings in Trump’s absence, is traveling to South Carolina Tuesday. He was accompanied by Medicare and Medicaid Services Director Dr. Seema Mehta.
Fauci does have another gig lined up. The Washington Nationals have invited him to throw out the ceremonial first pitch at their home opener Thursday – a role that historically U.S. presidents have often fulfilled.
He also is set to be interviewed on CNN Tuesday afternoon right before the briefing.
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany told Fox News the briefings would be ‘short’ and ‘very newsy.’ She said the president might sometimes bring other officials with him and might stray to issues besides the coronavirus.
CNN reported that no coronavirus task force members were expected to join the president.