Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, once again criticized former President Trump for scolding his constant pessimism during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Speaking with The New York Times, Fauci said he never took pleasure in “contradicting” the president but did so in order to avoid the spread of disinformation.
“It isn’t like I took any pleasure in contradicting the president of the United States,” Fauci said. “I have a great deal of respect for the office. But I made a decision that I just had to. Otherwise I would be compromising my own integrity, and be giving a false message to the world. If I didn’t speak up, it would be almost tacit approval that what he was saying was OK,” he said.
“That’s when I started to get into some trouble,” he continued. “The people around him, his inner circle, were quite upset that I would dare publicly contradict the president.”
Fauci added that the president would sometimes call upon him to be more positive.
“There were a couple of times where I would make a statement that was a pessimistic viewpoint about what direction we were going,” Fauci said, “and the president would call me up and say, ‘Hey, why aren’t you more positive? You’ve got to take a positive attitude. Why are you so negativistic? Be more positive.’”
During a White House press briefing last Thursday, Fauci said that he felt liberated by the Biden presidency, allowing him to speak strictly about science and facts without getting swept up into political drama.
“The idea that you can get up here and talk about what you know, what evidence, what the science is and know that that’s it, let the science speak, it is somewhat of a liberating feeling,” he said.
Fauci also appreciated that he did not have to publicly contradict the president anymore on issues of science.
“It was very clear that there were things that were said, be it regarding things like Hydroxychloroquine and other things like that, that really was uncomfortable because they were not based on scientific fact,” said Fauci.
Fauci did, however, contradict reports that said President Trump had no vaccine distribution plan in place, which stood in the face of all available facts.
“We certainly are not starting from scratch because there is activity going on in the distribution,” said Fauci.
“But if you look at the plan that the president has put forth about the things that he’s going to do, mainly get community vaccine centers up, get pharmacies more involved, where appropriate get the Defense Production Act involved not only, perhaps, with getting more vaccine, but even the things you need to get a good vaccine program, for example needles and syringes,” Fauci continued. “So it’s taking what’s gone on, but amplifying it in a big way.”
During the same interview with The New York Times, Fauci elaborated on the many death threats he and his family received as a result of the pandemic.
“It was the harassment of my wife, and particularly my children, that upset me more than anything else,” he said. “They knew where my kids work, where they live. The threats would come directly to my children’s phones, directly to my children’s homes. How the hell did whoever these assholes were get that information?”
In one particular incident, Fauci received an envelope that exploded a puff of powder when he opened it, which ended up being benign.
“That was very, very disturbing to me and my wife because it was in my office,” he said. “So I just looked at it all over me and said, ‘What do I do?’ The security detail was there, and they’re very experienced in that. They said, ‘Don’t move, stay in the room.’ And they got the hazmat people. So they came, they sprayed me down and all that.”
“My wife and my children were more disturbed than I was. I looked at it somewhat fatalistically,” he said. “It had to be one of three things: A hoax. Or anthrax, which meant I’d have to go on Cipro for a month. Or if it was ricin, I was dead, so bye-bye.”
Related: Fauci: Trump’s Lack Of Candor ‘Very Likely’ Cost Lives