I can tell you that I take no pleasure in being in a situation where I disagree with the president, Mr. Fauci said in the audience, and yet it seems a pleasure to no longer have to dance around the turbulent ego of President Donald Trump.
The idea that you can come here and talk about what you know, the evidence, the science – let the science speak, he said. It’s a kind of liberating feeling.
He has gotten rid of some of his turbulent history with the previous administration. But he did not try to hide his joy at the news of the changing of the guard.
For the 80-year-old infectious disease specialist, it was the last act in a long history of serving seven U.S. presidents. Fauci, who was a member of Trump’s coronavirus task force and who survived Trump’s public mockery, appeared to speak to the new administration’s plans and approve of the new president’s approach.
In a way, it was a twist. Although it was brushed aside and eventually ignored, it still helped to formulate highly flawed asset management policies that failed to contain the virus.
But as the situation began to deteriorate, Trump’s staff reduced Fauci’s television appearances with warnings and pulled him from the briefing in the president’s Oval Office.
Fauci and Trump disagreed on how to approach a pandemic, how to deliver the right message to the American people, and how to strike a balance between rediscovering the disease and preventing its spread.
Still, Mr. Trump insisted that he respected Fauci, but disagreed with his approach. But at the lowest point of their relationship, Trump hinted that he would fire Fauci. Attacks by Trump’s allies have led to death threats and increased security.
Thursday was a different story. Fauci woke up before four in the morning. AND will apply to the World Health Organization on behalf of the administration after Biden joins the panel.
A few hours later, in the State Dining Room, Biden and Fauci greeted each other warmly before Biden signed a series of measures to combat the pandemic. He has participated in several television interviews. He was the first administrative professional to be held in the conference room under the new leadership.
Fauci himself said he guaranteed a new approach.
One of the things that was very clear until about 15 minutes ago when I was with the president is that one of the things we’re going to do is be completely transparent, open and honest, Fauci said. If something is wrong, don’t point fingers, just fix it. And that everything we do is based on science and evidence.
This is literally the conversation I had with the president 15 minutes ago, he said, clearly dismissing the strong warnings he’s been trying to convey for months about the pandemic that now bears the White House’s signature.
We are still in a very serious situation, said Fauci, who began his speech by calling the latest figure of 400,000 deaths a very bad report.
He said the recent average number of cases appears to be more than seven days in limbo, and health officials think it’s real.
But, he added, he had said this before.
I have a little bit of déjà vu here, because I said something similar less than a year ago when we were talking about the acceleration of business in the late winter, early spring of 2020, when the New York metropolitan area was at the center of the action. Delays happen all the time, remember, he said.
This was, of course, before Trump decided that Fauci’s urgent warnings were chilling the mood of Americans and, by extension, his political prospects.
Over the summer, Mr. Trump insisted that the country could control the virus. When there was another explosion in the fall, Trump denied it.
Fauci hasn’t spoken to Trump in weeks. Two days before the election, Mr. Trump suggested to a crowd in Florida that Fauci be fired. The doctor continued to attend working group meetings with Pence and spoke at an information session with Pence in November, but his relationship with Trump died down when he switched to a new adviser, Dr. Scott Atlas, whose views were borderline.
On Thursday, Fauci reported that the days of pride are over and the dark facts are on the table.
One of the new features of this administration is that you don’t have to guess if you don’t know the answer, he said. Just say you don’t know the answer.
CNN’s Betsy Klein contributed to this report.