Jul 22, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Trump says briefings without health experts are a "concise way of doing it"

President Trump said Wednesday that the reason health experts like Deborah Birx and Anthony Fauci no longer attend his coronavirus press briefings is because they brief him on "everything they know as of this point in time" and he passes the information on to the public.

Why it matters: Before they were canceled in April, Trump's daily briefings grew infamous for being rife with misinformation, which his health experts would be forced to carefully contradict.

  • On Wednesday, Trump said that he would be "comfortable" with his son and grandchildren returning to school in the fall and claimed that "a lot of people are saying" children don't transmit the virus easily.
  • The science is not yet conclusive on the role of children in spreading COVID-19. A recent study out South Korea found that children between the ages of 10 and 19 can spread the coronavirus at least as effectively as adults do.

The exchange:

REPORTER: "I don't think we really got an explanation yesterday on why the health experts are no longer joining you these briefings. Can you explain why?"
TRUMP: "Because they are briefing me. I am meeting with them. I just spoke to Dr. Fauci, Dr. Birx is right outside. And they are giving me everything they know as of this point in time and I'm giving the information to you and I think it's probably a very concise way of doing it. It seems to be working out very well. And they are very much involved, the relationships they are all very good."

The big picture: Fauci in particular rarely briefs the president anymore and was not invited to either of the newly-revived briefings that Trump held on Tuesday and Wednesday.

  • Fauci told the New York Times on Tuesday: "[W]ould you want me to say something that’s directly contrary to what the president is doing? That’s not helpful. Then all of a sudden you don’t hear from me for a while."
  • "I’ve just been doing this for so long, and I’m trying to do my best to get the message across without being overtly at odds," he added.
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