KEY POINTS

  • Trump's relentless attacks on Dr. Anthony Fauci is dividing leadership of the Republican Party
  • Mike Pence is praising Dr. Fauci, as is Mitch McConnell
  • Trump said, he didn't know about Peter Navarro's op-ed assailing Dr. Fauci

A host of GOP big shots led by vice president Mike Pence and Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-KY, surprisingly came to the defense of Dr. Anthony Fauci after Trump administration underlings kept on smearing the country's foremost infectious disease expert with the White House's blessings.

Dr. Fauci is the Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). He's been earmarked for shaming by the Trump administration amid his ongoing series of conflicts against President Donald Trump. Dr. Fauci has repeatedly criticized Trump's claim that the COVID-19 pandemic is fading away on its own.

Stephen Moore, a member of Trump's task force to reopen the economy, explained why Dr. Fauci is in the White House's crosshairs. He said Dr. Fauci has "become a big problem for Trump because he keeps contradicting what the White House is saying. Obviously he's had his run and now the White House is trying to distance themselves from him. And that's become a PR nightmare."

The most egregious and serious attack on Dr. Fauci was launched by Peter Navarro, the Assistant to the President and Director of Trade and Manufacturing Policy. An economist with no medical experience whatsoever, Navarro accused Dr. Fauci of failing in everything he did as regards the pandemic.

He claimed Dr. Fauci has been “wrong about everything I have interacted with him on," in an op-ed published in USA Today Tuesday, July 14, Navarro also listed down all the times Dr. Fauci was wrong and when he was right.

Despite Navarro's tirade, which president Donald Trump claimed he never approved, Dr. Fauci continues to enjoy strong support among the public and lawmakers from both parties.

Pence, who is also head of the White House coronavirus task force, Wednesday, defended Dr. Fauci in public comments. Before this, Pence tweeted a photo of the two of them at the White House.

Pence said, "Dr. Fauci is a valued member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force." When asked by reporters about recent attacks on Fauci by the administration, Pence replied, "We just completed our latest meeting today and we couldn’t be more grateful for his steady counsel."

Anthony Fauci, the top US infectious disease expert, has warned that the country is still 'knee-deep' in its first coronavirus wave Anthony Fauci, the top US infectious disease expert, has warned that the country is still 'knee-deep' in its first coronavirus wave Photo: GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / POOL

In a TV interview, McConnell was asked how much confidence he has in Dr. Fauci. He curtly replied, "Total." He also said regretfully, the pandemic in the U.S. isn't over and isn't going away until we get a vaccine.

Dr. Fauci defended himself against Navarro's attacks, calling them "bizarre." And as for Navarro, Dr. Fauci said "he can’t explain Peter Navarro. He’s in a world by himself.”

"I stand by everything I said," asserted Dr. Fauci. "Contextually, at the time I said it, it was absolutely true," he said as a rebuke to Navarro and other Republicans now trying to discredit him.

Trump's unending criticisms of Dr. Fauci, the latest of which took place July 9, was the signal for Trump officials to unload on the doctor. In an interview with Fox News' Sean Hannity, Trump said, Dr. Fauci had "made a lot of mistakes."

White House director of social media Dan Scavino posted a cartoon on Facebook depicting Dr. Fauci as a faucet flushing the U.S. economy down the drain.

"Sorry, Dr. Faucet!" wrote Scavino. "At least you know if I’m going to disagree with a colleague, such as yourself, it’s done publicly -- and not cowardly, behind journalists with leaks."

Trump is now trying to distance himself from Navarro due to the huge negative reactions to the latter's op-ed. White House director of strategic communications Alyssa Farah said, Navarro's op-ed wasn't approved by the White House and was "the opinion of Peter alone."

Despite strong signs to the contrary, Dr. Fauci still doesn't see himself getting fired by Trump.

“I don’t see any termination within the near future because I judge [my career] by my energy and my effectiveness," he said. "And right now, with all due modesty, I think I’m pretty effective."

Dr. Fauci plans to remain in his role on the White House coronavirus task force until he feels he isn’t valued in the role. He also has no plans of resigning any of his posts. He described his relationship with Trump as good in "some respects."