President Donald Trump baselessly claimed on Thursday that Dr. Anthony Fauci, a key member of the White House’s Coronavirus Task Force, was a Democrat when in fact he is not registered with any political party.
The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases told CNN he isn’t registered to a political party. Voter records show that, too. Fauci has also served in his current role under Democratic and Republican US presidents going back to the Reagan administration.
Trump made his claims at a North Carolina rally, once again questioning whether masks were an effective means to prevent the spread of the coronavirus and inaccurately painting Fauci as a Democrat who encouraged people to “not wear a mask under any circumstance.”
“(Y)ou have my friend and he’s a nice guy Tony, Tony Fauci. He’s a nice guy.” Trump told supporters, who booed at the mention of Fauci’s name.
The President continued: “He said, ‘This is not a threat. This is not a problem. Don’t worry about this, it’s not a problem.’ That’s the craziest thing. Then he said, ‘Do not wear a mask. Do not wear a mask under any circumstance. Don’t wear a mask – don’t, don’t, don’t,’ right? So, we don’t wear a mask, then they say ‘Oh, wear a mask.’ I never saw – do you ever see any conflicts? But he’s a nice guy so I keep him around, right? We’ll keep him around.”
Trump has repeatedly used Fauci’s past comments to question whether masks are effective. But his comparison is inaccurate.
Before the virus spread globally, Fauci did say that the American people shouldn’t be worried, but he was always clear that the situation could change and that public health officials needed to take it seriously. He never said, as Trump suggested, that Americans should not wear a mask under any circumstance. But Fauci was among federal public health officials appointed to the White House Coronavirus Task Force advising against non-health workers from wearing a mask early on in the pandemic, saying there was little evidence masks protect the wearers – something that is still true.
Federal public health officials, including Fauci, have now said for several months that the science on wearing facial coverings has evolved since the early days of the pandemic. They advise that Americans should wear a facial covering to prevent the spread of the virus.
The President’s and Fauci have butted heads over how to handle the coronavirus pandemic for months. And though Fauci was appointed to the White House’s group of federal public health officials to address the pandemic, Trump now frequently eschews its recommendations for advice more suitable to his political mission – “reopening” the country.
Most recently, they clashed after his comments were cut into a pro-Trump campaign.
Fauci has maintained that he has never endorsed a candidate for President and that the campaign should remove the ad. But after the dispute, Trump had mostly refrained from attacking the doctor on the campaign trail.
Fauci has also has been warning that rallies like the ones Trump is holding are “asking for trouble.”
“Because when you look at what is going on in the United States, it is really very troublesome,” he said earlier this week.
He warned that ignoring the pandemic is a big problem. “I think we’re facing a whole lot of trouble,” when discussing the rising number of daily deaths, adding, “That’s a bad place to be when you’re going into the cooler weather of the fall and the colder weather of the winter.”
CNN’s Jim Acosta and Kaitlan Collins contributed to this report.