WASHINGTON — Senate Republicans are backing Anthony Fauci, saying they’ve full confidence in his experience. But they’re largely staying silent on the assaults to his credibility from contained in the White House, with some senators dismissing the smears as honest recreation.
BuzzFeed News requested a cross part of greater than a dozen Republican senators about Fauci, starting from occasion leaders to moderates to extra hardline conservatives. He acquired unanimous help.
In latest days, White House staffers have drafted speaking factors attacking Fauci, the nation’s high infectious illness specialist, and shared a cartoon mocking the physician. Peter Navarro, an adviser to Trump, penned an op-ed in USA Today titled “Anthony Fauci Has Been Wrong About Everything I Have Interacted With Him On.”
Fauci has been shut out from White House press conferences. Trump took the rostrum by himself Tuesday; when requested why Fauci and Deborah Birx weren’t current, the president responded, “Well, Dr. Birx is right outside.”
Fauci has been much less vocal, although he advised the Atlantic the assaults in opposition to him had been “bizarre.” He stays a heroic determine in lots of circles and can toss out the primary pitch on the Washington Nationals season opener this week.
Fauci has constantly been extra pessimistic on COVID-19 projections than the president, who has pushed for reopening and repeatedly argued the coronavirus will disappear. As a end result, Trump versus Fauci has develop into a part of the nation’s political divide.
“I think Fauci has become emblematic of what tribe you’re in and what side you’re on in a political civil war,” mentioned Sen. Ted Cruz.
He didn’t criticize Fauci’s credibility and in reality expressed help for him — however he did object to what he described as individuals putting an virtually non secular degree of religion within the epidemiologist’s statements. “I have no problem with his being one of many voices in the discussion, but he’s treated almost like this talisman,” mentioned Cruz.
Trump’s extra fervent followers within the House of Representatives are taking over the struggle over Fauci’s credibility. Republican Rep. Liz Cheney was blasted by members of the arduous proper Freedom Caucus for being too supportive of Fauci at a caucus assembly Tuesday, Politico reported.
But that political divide doesn’t prolong to the Senate, the place Fauci nonetheless receives broad bipartisan reward.
“I have great confidence in his professionalism and integrity,” mentioned John Barrasso, a member of Senate management.
Sen. Mitt Romney referred to as Fauci “a treasure and an extraordinary voice on matters relating to his expertise.” Sen. Susan Collins mentioned America is fortunate to have him.
Some senators did mood their help by saying he is just one voice of many who must be heard, however even they praised his information as an epidemiologist. “He should be at the table. His input is important,” mentioned Sen. Marco Rubio.
Asked whether it is acceptable for White House staffers to assault the credibility of the nation’s main epidemiologist, Republicans responded cautiously.
“There are, I’m sure, differences of points of view within the administration,” mentioned Sen. John Thune, the bulk whip. “But I don’t think it’s probably advisable to publicly pick a fight with someone who has that kind of credibility.”
Sen. Bill Cassidy, a doctor, expressed his help in Fauci, calling him “great.” Asked concerning the assaults on the general public well being skilled’s fame, Cassidy mentioned he didn’t need to get entangled.
“This is politics. This is big leagues, so people may attack him,” he mentioned. “I’ll just reiterate my personal support for him.”
Some Republicans chalked up the anti-Fauci statements as the kind of heated interpersonal debates that include working within the highest ranges of presidency. But Sen. John Cornyn did say of Navarro’s USA Today op-ed, “I think it’s completely unnecessary.”
Fauci doesn’t appear to be going anyplace. Trump can not fireplace him immediately. Romney mentioned he’s heard no discuss of the president making an attempt to strain him to step down, including that he could be shocked if that had been the case.
Trump’s chief of employees, Mark Meadows, downplayed the difficulty whereas darting between conferences on Capitol Hill this week. He attributed the controversy to “some statements publicly that have been made” and the White House doesn’t have any deep-seated opposition to Fauci.
Asked if he has religion in Fauci, Meadows responded, “As an epidemiologist? Sure.”