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."