By MOLLY NAGLE, ABC News
(WASHINGTON) — Former Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign has issued a sharp rebuke of the Trump administration’s efforts to discredit Dr. Anthony Fauci, one of the country’s top infectious disease doctors, and member of the White House coronavirus pandemic task force.
“The president’s disgusting attempt to pass the buck by blaming the top infectious disease expert in the country — whose advice he repeatedly ignored and Joe Biden consistently implored him to take — is yet another horrible and revealing failure of leadership as the tragic death toll continues to needlessly grow,” Andrew Bates, Biden campaign spokesman said in a statement provided first to ABC News.
Biden’s response comes as the White House has provided a document to several media outlets that contains a list of comments made by Fauci in an effort to damage his reputation.
The document, obtained by ABC News from sources who confirmed the effort to discredit Fauci, says in part that “several White House officials are concerned about the number of times Dr. Fauci has been wrong on things.”
“Over 135,000 Americans have lost their lives and tens of millions have lost their jobs because Donald Trump spent the last six months disastrously mismanaging the worst public health crisis in a century, the whole time failing to heed the warnings and guidance of medical experts — particularly Dr. Fauci. Infections in the United States have skyrocketed, surpassing every other country in the world by far, specifically because of Trump’s refusal to listen to science,” Bates said in the statement.
Biden himself appeared to respond to the new reports in a tweet Monday afternoon.
“Donald Trump needs to spend less time playing golf and more time listening to experts like Dr. Fauci,” the former vice president tweeted.
The news of the document comes as two senior level White House sources tell ABC News that Fauci has at times been referred to among aides to the president as “Dr. Gloom and Doom.”
Despite the memo from his own administration, Trump argued Monday afternoon that he has a good relationship with Fauci, even if the two do not always see eye to eye.
“I have a very good relationship with Dr. Fauci. I’ve had for a long time, right from the beginning. I find him to be a very nice person. I don’t always agree with him,” Trump said. “So we’ve made a lot of good decisions, but no, I get along with him very well. I like him personally,” Trump told reporters.
Fauci has yet to respond to the attacks from the White House, despite appearing publicly Monday to discuss the coronavirus pandemic, arguing that “We haven’t even begun to see the end of it yet,” but expressed optimism about possible treatments and vaccines on the horizon.
Along with the statement, the Biden campaign took aim at President Trump in a 14-page document highlighting statements from the president throughout the COVID-19 pandemic which have been contradicted by various health experts, including Fauci, on vaccines, testing availability, and other treatments for COVID.
The campaign’s statement is the latest example of criticism –going back months– of the Trump administration’s failure to get a hold of the coronavirus outbreak in the United States.
Trump defended his administration’s handling of COVID-19 during an interview with Telemundo Friday, suggesting that recent spikes in cases in states like Florida and Texas would soon be under control.
“We are winning the war,” the president said in an interview Friday. “Our testing is far superior to anybody’s, so we’ve now tested almost 45 million people, and that’s helping greatly, but it flared up in areas where they thought it was ending, and that would be Florida, Texas, a couple of other places. And they… they’re going to have it under control very quickly.”
Biden had previously committed asking Fauci to remain in his role, praising his ‘incredible service to the country,’ and vowing he would heed his advice as president.
“ I’ll be a president who respects scientists, who won’t censor their ability to speak directly to the American people. I will immediately reach out to Dr. Anthony Fauci to ask him to continue his incredible service to the country. And I’ll have, from Day One, ready to go, the best medical experts and scientists to advise on our response. Maybe most importantly, I will listen to them and let them speak freely.” Biden said during a speech in Wilmington, Del. in late June.
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