Former President Donald Trump on Monday attacked Drs. Anthony Fauci and Deborah Birx, calling the pair of coronavirus advisers from his administration “self-promoters trying to reinvent history” while accusing them of making “faulty recommendations” that he dutifully overturned.
In a lengthy and bellicose statement released after the two medical experts criticized the Trump administration for its pandemic response during interviews with CNN for a documentary that aired Sunday, the former president maligned the duo for their critiques.
“Based on their interviews, I felt it was time to speak up about Dr. Fauci and Dr. Birx, two self-promoters trying to reinvent history to cover for their bad instincts and faulty recommendations, which I fortunately almost always overturned,” Trump said. “They had bad policy decisions that would have left our country open to China and others, closed to reopening our economy, and years away from an approved vaccine — putting millions of lives at risk.”
The ex-president credited himself with the speedy approval of the vaccine, insisting “I was the one to get it done, and even the fake news media knows and reports this,” adding to his administration’s revisionism around its handling of the pandemic.
Trump also lashed out over Fauci’s comments that suggested Trump’s social media use ran counter to what the administration’s pandemic response should have been.
At one point during the CNN interview, Fauci said that he was shocked by a series of tweets coming from the President’s Twitter feed that ran counter to efforts at slowing the spread of coronavirus when he urged for COVID-19 restrictions put in place in Virginia and Michigan to be lifted.
“It shocked me because it was such a jolt to what we were trying to do,” Fauci told CNN. Birx also asserted that confusing messaging from the federal government was “fault number one.”
Without addressing his frequent use of social media platforms to promote false information about coronavirus, Trump nicknamed Fauci in his statement “the king of ‘flip-flops,’” suggesting that the infectious disease expert had moved “the goalposts to make himself look as good as possible.” He also called Birx a “liar” who relied on “pseudo-science.”
“Dr. Birx was a terrible medical advisor, which is why I seldom followed her advice,” Trump said in his statement.
In spite of well-documented instances in which Birx has defended the former president, and her own admission that she undersold the virus, she told CNN that the Trump administration could have prevented hundreds of thousands of Covid-19 deaths in the United States. Birx said that after an initial surge more could have been done to reduce virus deaths which have now soared above 550,000.
“There were about 100,000 deaths that came from that original surge,” she said. “All of the rest of them, in my mind, could have been mitigated or decreased substantially.”
Birx also referred to a “very difficult call,” from Trump after an appearance on CNN in August sounding the alarm over widespread coronavirus cases.
“I got called by the President,” Birx told CNN. “It was very uncomfortable, very direct and very difficult to hear.”
In his statement, Trump, who has regularly sidelined public health officials, denied the call and stood by his efforts to undermine their expertise suggesting he only retained them because they had been longtime government employees.
“Time has proven me correct,” he said. “I only kept Dr. Fauci and Dr. Birx on because they worked for the U.S. government for so long — they are like a bad habit!”