White House chief medical adviser Anthony Fauci and his former colleague Deborah Birx are in rare public disagreement over their recollections of a tense meeting with then-Vice President Mike Pence.
In her recent book, Birx, who served on the Trump administration’s coronavirus task force, recalled a meeting with the vice president, Fauci and Robert Redfield, then the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
She said Fauci had encouraged her to “take on” the vice president, but then when Pence shot down her concerns about the pandemic during a meeting, neither Fauci nor Redfield came to her defense.
Birx said in the book that she “had a very hard time reconciling myself with what I felt was a lack of support” from Fauci after the heated encounter with Pence, according to CNN.
In an appearance on CNN over the weekend, Birx was asked about that anecdote by host Jim Acosta, who noted his surprise considering Fauci’s consistent public support for her.
“You know, I think if you talk to the people in the White House, the communication team and the people who were in the task force, the people who are in the Oval Office. They’ll tell you that — and this is one of the reasons I stayed. The only person that pushed back on the president when he would say these things was me,” Birx told Acosta. “That was my job.”
Asked by Acosta about the meeting with Birx and Pence, Fauci said Sunday he did not “recall that episode at all.”
“Behind the scenes, in front of the camera, I always have been very supportive of Dr. Birx,” Fauci said, adding that he was “not sure what she was referring to there.”
In the same interview, Fauci said that he would not return to the White House if former President Trump wins the presidency again in 2024.
“If you look at the history of what the response was during the administration, I think, you know, at best, you can say it wasn’t optimal,” Fauci added. “History will speak for itself about that.”