President Donald Trump defended appearing at his rebooted coronavirus briefing solo, without any medical experts at his side.
‘Well, Dr. Birx is right outside,’ Trump answereed when asked about the whereabouts of Dr. Deborah Birx and Dr. Anthony Fauci, who had said on CNN earlier Tuesday that he hadn’t gotten an invite.
‘I was not invited up to this point,’ Fauci said, just an hour before the president was set to take the podium and speak about the coronavirus still ravaging the nation at an alarming and escalating rate.
President Trump defended flying solo at his first coronavirus briefing in months, telling reporters, ‘Dr. Birx is right outside,’ but ignoring the same query about the whereabouts of Dr. Anthony Fauci
SHE’S RIGHT OUTSIDE! President Trump said Dr. Deborah Birx (pictured) was right outside the briefing room when asked during his Tuesday solo press briefing about her and Dr. Anthony Fauci’s whereabouts
Dr. Anthony Fauci appeared on CNN before Tuesday’s White House briefing and said that he hadn’t been invited
‘I’m assuming that I’m not going to be there because it’s going to be in just a short while and I’m still here at the NIH,’ said Fauci, the soft-spoken epidemiologist who has counseled presidents since Ronald Reagan on disease outbreaks.
He told the network he had been at the White House on Monday, but said he hasn’t spoken to Trump since last week – on a day of drama about which medical experts if any Trump would select to accompany him to the podium.
He said he had a ‘good long conversation’ with Trump toward the end of last week.
Fauci fielded a series of questions during the interview about the pandemic, vaccines, and testing, which he agreed needed improvement.
Reports from a number of states show people waiting for more than a week to get results from COVID-19 tests – which can throw off efforts to contact-trace and avoid spread of infection. The U.S. has about a quarter of the world’s cases after a long spike.
‘We still have to make it better,’ Fauci acknowledged.
‘Some places are getting it quite right. But others, the time-frame from when you get a test the time you get the result back is sometimes measured in a few days. If that’s the case, it kind of negates the purpose of the contact tracing,’ he said. The tracing is meant to identify others who may have caught or be spreading the disease.
Amid the public confusion, Vice President Mike Pence, who leads the White House coronavirus taskforce, said he didn’t know if Fauci would be included in Trump’s first rebooted briefing.
Pence, traveling in South Carolina Tuesday, was pressed twice by DailyMail.com on whether Fauci would attend.
‘I’d leave that to the White House today,’ Pence eventually answered, after pointing out how taskforce members, like Birx, were being deployed around the nation and had recently briefed the press, just not at the White House.
‘The president will be speaking at a White House briefing today. And he indicated yesterday that we’ll be briefing on a regular basis, but as know, the coronavirus taskforce has been briefing over the last several weeks,’ Pence said.
He pointed to appearances members made at the Department of Education and HHS’ headquarters.
‘But we also thought it was very imporant that we take taskforce members out around the country. Dr. Birx was in half a dozen states last week. I was in Louisiana, I traveled to Arizona and Texas,’ Pence continued. ‘I’ll be in Florida in just a few short days.’
‘We think it’s important that our team is on the ground and working closely with governors and with health officials. We’ll continue to brief, we’ll continue to brief the country going forward,’ Pence said at a briefing with White House and South Carolina officials.
Pence’s comments came after Surgeon General Jerome Adams, a key task force member, said Tuesday morning that he didn’t know who would attend – and whether 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,’ Adams told CBS ‘This Morning.’
Vice President Mike Pence couldn’t say whether Dr. Anthony Fauci would be joining President Trump at Tuesday evening’s rebooted White House coronavirus briefing
Mike Pence is photographed in Columbia, South Carolina Tuesday removing his mask before addressing reporters
‘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 Birx would attend the briefing.
Fauci has taken to the airwaves to defend himself, even without attending the Tuesday 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.
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.
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
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.
Trump stopped showing up to the near-daily press conferences 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.
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany told Fox News the new briefings would be ‘short’ and ‘very newsy.’
She said the president sometimes might bring other officials with him and might stray to issues besides the coronavirus.