Washington, April 14 (IANS) The White House has said that President Donald Trump was not firing the nation’s top infectious diseases expert Anthony Fauci.
“This media chatter is ridiculous,” Xinhua news agency quoted White House deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley as saying in a statement on monday.
“Dr. Fauci has been and remains a trusted advisor to President Trump.”
The statement came after Trump retweeted a post on Sunday night containing the hashtag “#FireFauci”.
Fauci, who has been the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984, is facing criticism from conservatives after he said in an interview with CNN on Sunday that more lives could have been saved if stay-at-home measures were implemented earlier.
A key member of the administration’ coronavirus task force, Fauci told reporters in the White House briefing room on Monday that he was responding to a “hypothetical question” during the CNN interview.
The expert claimed his response “was taken as a way that maybe somehow something was at fault here”, and said his remark about “pushback” inside the administration to some of his recommendations on shutting the nation down at the end of February was a “poor choice of words”.
Trump, shrugging off the retweet on Monday, said in the briefing he “retweeted somebody”, adding “it doesn’t matter”.
As the administration has been scrutinized for downplaying the threat from the virus early on and faulted for delays in testing, Trump and his allies are mounting an aggressive defense.
During Monday’s briefing, Trump aired a campaign-style clip that highlighted measures he has taken to combat the virus and governors’ praise for his actions.
As of Tuesday, US has reported 582,607 confirmed coronavirus cases, with 23,628 deaths, making it the country with the world’s highest number of infections and fatalities, according to a tally from Johns Hopkins University on Monday.