On Tuesday, White House trade adviser Peter Navarro penned an op-ed in USA Today that attacked Fauci’s credibility and claimed the infectious disease expert had “been wrong about everything I have interacted with him on.”
The next morning, Alyssa Farah, White House Director of Strategic Communications, said that Navarro’s op-ed did not go through the proper review process and is “the opinion of Peter alone.”
“The Peter Navarro op-ed didn’t go through normal White House clearance processes and is the opinion of Peter alone,” Farah wrote.
She added, “[Trump] values the expertise of the medical professionals advising his Administration.”
The Peter Navarro op-ed didn’t go through normal White House clearance processes and is the opinion of Peter alone. @realDonaldTrump values the expertise of the medical professionals advising his Administration.
— Alyssa Farah (@Alyssafarah) July 15, 2020
When asked about Navarro’s op-ed, Trump said, “That’s Peter Navarro, but I have a very good relationship with Dr. Fauci.”
Farah’s comments led many on commentators and reporters to ponder whether Navarro would be fired for apparently circumventing the normal process for publishing an op-ed.
If the Peter Navarro op-ed "didn't go through normal White House clearance processes," as the White House claims, will Navarro be punished?
Is there any reason to believe that Navarro acted completely outside normal channels if he is not then reprimanded for attacking Dr. Fauci?
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) July 15, 2020
Lol, sure. If this was really true, Navarro would be packing up his office right now. https://t.co/Qag8Sei1My
— Matthew Miller (@matthewamiller) July 15, 2020
This is the WH statement on the Peter Navarro op-ed attacking Dr. Fauci. I imagine in other administrations, he might be fired or face repercussions for a take down piece about the government’s top infectious disease specialist amid a pandemic. https://t.co/G4eznnxjgT
— Yamiche Alcindor (@Yamiche) July 15, 2020
However, some appeared to suggest that Trump sanctioned the op-ed:
Another thing to consider – Navarro isn't doing this unless Trump tells him it's okay, which means the point at which Trump is working around his chief-of-staff has already arrived. https://t.co/zMce5zDd2q
— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) July 15, 2020
If Navarro isn’t fired by COB today, you can take it as proof of an implicit (if not explicit) endorsement by the president of his actions posting that trash op-ed.
— Bradley P. Moss (@BradMossEsq) July 15, 2020
Despite the speculation, White House officials told CBS News’ Weijia Jiang that Navarro “often goes ‘rogue'” on media decisions. However, they were reportedly taken aback because they had requested that he refrain from attacking Fauci.
Amid speculation that White House officials were sidelining Fauci, another member of the coronavirus task force denied that there was an effort to stifle advice that Trump might not like.
During an appearance on NBC’s “Meet The Press” on July, 12, Admiral Brett Giroir, said, “I want to put to just put this to rest. There is complete, open, honest discussion within the task force.”
“I respect Dr. Fauci a lot, but Dr. Fauci is not 100% right, and he also doesn’t necessarily — and he admits that — have the whole national interest in mind. … but let me just say there is absolutely open discourse. I feel absolutely free saying anything to the vice president within those rooms. The vice president I know briefs the president on a daily basis. So nobody feels like anything is held back.”
Watch the video below:
— Meet the Press (@MeetThePress) July 12, 2020
However, Giroir pushed back after Trump shared a tweet that accused medical experts of lying to the public, as IJR reported.
“Look, we may occasionally make mistakes based on the information we have, but none of us lie,” he said.
“We let the American people know what we know. Again, as new information comes, that may need to be changed because we’re learning every day. But nobody lies to the American people. We’re completely transparent and honest,” Giroir added.
Giroir reiterated that health experts might make mistakes but added, “That’s just the way things are. That’s why we all work together and will continue to do so.”
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