Jul 13, 2020 - Politics & Policy

McEnany denies White House issued "opposition research" on Fauci

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany denied Monday that the White House released "opposition research" on Anthony Fauci’s handling of the coronavirus, despite the fact that multiple media outlets received a statement from an unnamed White House official that listed the times Fauci was "wrong on things" in the pandemic's early days.

The big picture: McEnany painted the statement as "a direct answer to what was a direct question" for a Washington Post piece, but the administration forwarded that document to other outlets, including CNN, which described it as "[resembling] opposition research on a political opponent."

  • Some of Fauci's statements on the list include his early comments that asymptomatic individuals could not play a major role in spreading the virus.
  • Fauci's defenders told the Post they attribute the errors to the difficulty in forecasting how a novel virus would ultimately behave in humans, arguing that his assertions at the time leaned on what epidemiologists knew about past coronaviruses.

The big picture: Fauci and President Trump's relationship has deteriorated as the two have disagreed on topics like the reopening of schools, testing and the use of treatments like hydroxychloroquine.

  • Fauci said last week that he hasn't seen Trump at the White House since June 2.

What she's saying:

  • "There is no opposition research being dumped to reporters. We were asked a very specific question by the Washington Post. And that question was President Trump noted that Dr. Fauci had made some mistakes and we provided a direct answer to what was a direct question."
  • "To the notion that there's opposition research and that there's Fauci versus the president couldn't be further from the truth. Dr. Fauci and the president have always had a very good working relationship."

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