Dr. Anthony Fauci said Wednesday that he did not get "any sense that President Donald Trump" was distorting anything about the coronavirus earlier this year, either in his briefings or during private discussions, despite disclosures in Bob Woodward's upcoming book, "Rage" that Trump downplayed the dangers of the virus.
"I don't recall anything different than in our discussions with the president," Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a key part of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, told Fox News. "In my discussions and the discussions of other task force members with the president, we were talking about the reality of what was going on. When we would get up in front of the press conferences, which were very, very common after our discussions with the president, he really didn't say anything different than we discussed when we were with him."
According to Woodward's book, Trump admitted in March that he "always wanted to play it down" when it came to the COVID-19 threat to the United States. In February, he told Woodward he knew the virus was more serious than the flu.
But Fauci said Wednesday he was always straightforward in his discussions with Trump, as were others on the task force.
When Trump gave his briefings, "he led off and said we just got through with a briefing with the group from the task force and we would talk about it," said Fauci. "So it may have happened, but I have not seen those kinds of distortions."
He also insisted that the experts would talk about the "cold facts," and often Trump would want to "make sure that the country doesn't get down and out about things. I don't recall anything that was any gross distortion in things that I spoke to him about."
Fauci added that he was comfortable with what Trump was saying, but "I'm a small frame in the big picture of what goes on. I would go in, we would get Dr. (Deborah) Birx and I and Dr. (Robert) Redfield and talk to him about the things that were going on out there...we would get up and go in front of the cameras and talk about what the discussions were. Within that context, I don't think he said much different than what we said when we were in the Oval Office."
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