Anthony Fauci, one of the most recognized and trusted faces of the federal coronavirus response, said on Tuesday he was not invited to join President Donald Trump later in the day at a news briefing on the White House pandemic response.
Trump announced on Monday he would return to the White House lectern to deliver regular news briefings on the coronavirus — a staple this spring in the early months of the pandemic in the U.S. Those briefings often meandered off topic into campaign-style diatribes, and Trump has continued to use news conferences to express his disdain for his Democratic rivals since the last coronavirus briefing in April.
Still, he would often be flanked by members of the White House coronavirus task force who would give updates on their understanding of the virus.
Only an hour before Trump was scheduled to start his news briefing, however, Fauci told CNN’s Jake Tapper that he was not expecting to join the president on Tuesday.
“I was not invited up to this point,” Fauci said. “I’m assuming that I’m not going to be there because it’s going to be in just a short while and I’m still here at the NIH. So I’m assuming I’m not going to be there.”
Fauci said he had last spoken with Trump late last week, meaning he did not brief the president ahead of the Tuesday briefing.
Trump has maintained that he has a “very good” relationship with Fauci amid growing rumors of fraying ties between the veteran infectious disease expert and members of the administration. Trump said in a Fox News interview that aired on Sunday that Fauci was a “bit of an alarmist. That’s OK. A little bit of an alarmist.”
Speaking with Tapper on Tuesday, Fauci said: “I consider myself more a realist than an alarmist. But people do have their opinions other than that.”