Trump hailed Fauci in the March 19 interview as a “sharp guy” who has “done it before,” but when pressed if he had met with the nation’s leading infectious disease expert one-on-one for a better understanding of the virus, the President offered: “Yes, I guess, but honestly there’s not a lot of time for that, Bob.”
“This is a busy White House,” Trump explained. “We’ve got a lot of things happening. And then this came up.”
“This isn’t the ‘let’s read the book’ school, and I get it and I understand it, and it’s a very interesting thing,” Trump said in the video posted Sunday. “And I’m going to be letting you know about it.”
Trump’s March concession of not prioritizing time for Fauci also underscores the tension that has defined their relationship throughout the pandemic.
Widely considered a rare source of honesty from within the White House coronavirus task force, Fauci has garnered repeated rebukes from the President and his allies in conservative media for countering their more optimistic outlooks of the outbreak.
“I consider myself more a realist than an alarmist,” Fauci told CNN in July.
“This is deadly stuff,” Trump told Woodward on February 7.
And on March 19, the same day Trump said he didn’t have a lot of time to meet with Fauci, he also told Woodward he “wanted to always play it down.”
“I still like playing it down, because I don’t want to create a panic.”