President-elect Joe Biden said Thursday that he had asked Dr. Anthony Fauci earlier in the day to stay on in his role and to be a chief medical adviser in Biden’s incoming administration.
“I asked him to stay on in the exact same role he’s had for the past several presidents, and I asked him to be a chief medical adviser for me as well, and be part of the Covid team,” Biden told CNN’s Jake Tapper in the first joint interview of Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris since being elected.
Biden added that Ron Klain, the incoming White House chief of staff, knew Fauci well and had been talking to him “all the time.” Speaking on NBC’s “Today” show Friday morning, Fauci said he accepted the offer “right on the spot.”
Fauci previously told CNN that he had worked “very closely” with Klain during the Ebola outbreak when Klain was tasked with coordinating the Obama administration’s response to the crisis. He praised Klain as an “excellent choice” for White House chief of staff and said he was “absolutely terrific at the Ebola situation, where we had a very successful ultimate endgame with Ebola.”
Fauci told CNN later Thursday that he had an hour-long meeting at the White House that day with Biden’s agency review team. Team members who met with Fauci with included Jeffrey Zients, Biden’s choice for coronavirus czar, as well as two co-chairs of Biden’s 12-member coronavirus advisory board: Dr. David Kessler, the former commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration, and former US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy.
Among the topics they discussed were vaccine distribution and the state of the pandemic, according to Fauci, who said it was a good meeting and that it is “the way transition should work.”
According to the Biden-Harris transition website, “Agency review teams are responsible for understanding the operations of each agency, ensuring a smooth transfer of power.”
CNN reported earlier in the day that Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a member of President Donald Trump’s coronavirus taskforce, had a planned meeting with Biden’s transition team.
Fauci had initial conversations with Biden aides, including Klain, in recent days as part of the infectious diseases expert’s expected role in the Biden administration.
The plans for the meeting was first reported by CBS.
The meeting – which was scheduled to take place at 2 p.m. with Biden’s “landing team” assigned to the National Institutes of Health – came one day after the US reported its h