'Death threats and harassment': Dr Fauci reveals ‘disturbing’ incidents under Trump administration

Fauci, who now serves as the chief medical adviser to President Joe Biden, frequently contradicted Trump over the latter’s statements related to virus response.
NIH National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci listens to a reporter's question.(REUTERS)
NIH National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci listens to a reporter's question.(REUTERS)
Published on Jan 25, 2021 07:55 PM IST
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Byhindustantimes.com | Edited by Kunal Gaurav

The presidential years of Donald Trump ended on January 20 amid raging coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic and people who worked in the administration have started opening up about the handling of the health crisis. Top US infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci and former White House’s coronavirus task force coordinator Dr Deborah Birx, in separate interviews, provided a glimpse of behind-the-scenes in Trump administration.

Dr Fauci, the director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, recalled his experiences as a scientist under the Trump administration, calling the pressure campaigns from president “chilling”. Appearing on MSNBC's 'The Rachel Maddow Show’, Fauci revealed that scientists were pressed into "a situation where science was distorted or rejected.”

“I’ve been advising administrations and presidents on both sides of the aisle, Republicans and Democrats, people with different ideologies, and even with differences in ideology, there never was this real affront on science,” the 80-year-old immunologist said.

Fauci, who now serves as the chief medical adviser to President Joe Biden, frequently contradicted Trump over the latter’s statements related to virus response, including easing of restrictions and use of hydroxychloroquine on Covid-19 patients. He kept pushing for more coronavirus testing when Trump suggested that the US should slow down the testing.

Read | Trump's lack of honesty in handling Covid-19 'very likely' cost lives: Fauci

In an interview with the New York Times, Fauci talked about the death threats he started receiving in mid-March last year. He said the harassment of his wife and particularly his children that upset him more than anything else. “They knew where my kids work, where they live. The threats would come directly to my children’s phones, directly to my children’s homes,” he added.

Fauci further revealed that one day he received a letter in the mail with a powdered substance in it and he accidentally got it all over his face, which he called “very, very disturbing”. He said that he didn’t know what to do but security personnel asked him to stay in the room and people in hazmat suit sprayed him down to get rid of that substance, which they later found “benign nothing”.

“But it was frightening. My wife and my children were more disturbed than I was...It had to be one of three things: a hoax; or anthrax, which meant I’d have to go on cipro for a month; or if it was ricin, I was dead, so bye-bye,” he said.

Dr Deborah Birx has also shed light on the disinformation campaign under Trump administration, claiming that someone was creating a parallel set of data and graphics that were shown to the former president. “I saw the president presenting graphs that I never made...I know that someone out there or someone inside was creating a parallel set of data and graphics that were shown to the president,” Birx told moderator Margaret Brennan on CBS’ ‘Face the Nation’.

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