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In 2014, Anthony Fauci hugs Nina Pham, a nurse who was infected with Ebola by treating a patient. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has maintained his position through six administrations by emphasizing facts and candor in his conversations with politicians, the New Yorker's Michael Specter reports.

Why it matters: "Americans have come to rely on Fauci’s authoritative presence," Specter writes. "Perhaps not since the Vietnam era, when Walter Cronkite, the avuncular anchor of the 'CBS Evening News,' was routinely described as the most trusted man in America, has the country depended so completely on one person to deliver a daily dose of plain talk."

Details: Specter, who has known Fauci since the HIV/AIDS epidemic exploded in the mid-'80s, writes that Fauci told him the following in 2016:

“You stay completely apolitical and non-ideological, and you stick to what it is that you do. I’m a scientist and I’m a physician. And that’s it.”
“Some wise person who used to be in the White House, in the Nixon Administration, told me a very interesting dictum to live by. He said, ‘When you go into the White House, you should be prepared that that is the last time you will ever go in. Because if you go in saying, I’m going to tell somebody something they want to hear, then you’ve shot yourself in the foot.’ Now everybody knows I’m going to tell them exactly what’s the truth.”

The bottom line: When dealing with politicians, Fauci told Specter that he relies on the familiar pseudo-Latin expression Illegitimi non carborundum, or: "Don’t let the bastards grind you down."

Go deeper: The right and left internet loves Anthony Fauci

Go deeper

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
4 hours ago - Health

Biden taps ex-FDA chief to lead Operation Warp Speed amid rollout of COVID plan

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden has picked former FDA chief David Kessler to lead Operation Warp Speed, a day after unveiling a nearly $2 trillion pandemic relief plan that includes $400 billion for directly combatting the virus.

Why it matters: Biden's transition team said Kessler has been advising the president-elect since the beginning of the pandemic, and hopes his involvement will help accelerate vaccination, the New York Times reports. Operation Warp Speed's current director, Moncef Slaoui, will stay on as a consultant.

The case of the missing relief money

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A chunk of stimulus payments is missing in action, thanks to a mix up that put as many as 13 million checks into invalid bank accounts.

Why it matters: The IRS (by law) was supposed to get all payments out by Friday. Now the onus could shift to Americans to claim the money on their tax refund — further delaying relief to struggling, lower-income Americans.

The post-Trump GOP, gutted

McConnell (L), McCarthy (R) and Trump. Photo: Erin Schaff-Pool/Getty Images

Republicans will emerge from the Trump era gutted financially, institutionally and structurally.

The big picture: The losses are stark and substantial.