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Fauci and Birx. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

The White House informed Congress on Monday that members of the administration's coronavirus task force, which includes health experts Anthony Fauci and Deborah Birx, won't be allowed to testify in May.

Why it matters: The administration argues that having officials spend time testifying diverts critical resources and attention from its pandemic response. The move is likely to draw backlash from Democrats who have already accused the administration of skirting oversight during the coronavirus crisis.

  • The White House said that "all other departments, agencies, and witnesses may accept hearing invitations," but stressed that "agency resources should still be prioritized toward the COVID-19 response."
  • White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows is permitted to authorize exceptions to the guidance.

The White House had previously barred testimony from Fauci, the nation's top infectious diseases expert, saying in a statement last week:

"While the Trump administration continues its whole-of-government response to COVID-19, including safely opening up America again and expediting vaccine development, it is counter-productive to have the very individuals involved in those efforts appearing at Congressional hearings."
— White House spokesperson Judd Deere

Go deeper

Aug 12, 2020 - Health

Fauci says he "seriously" doubts Russia's coronavirus vaccine is safe

NIAID director Anthony Fauci testifies during a July congressional hearing on Capitol Hill. Photo: Kevin DietschI/AFP via Getty Images

NIAID director Anthony Fauci cast doubt during a National Geographic discussion due to air this week on the effectiveness of Russia's registered coronavirus vaccine touted by President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday.

Why it matters: "Having a vaccine ... and proving that a vaccine is safe and effective are two different things," Fauci told told ABC News' Deborah Roberts in the discussion, expected to air on Thursday. His comments add to the weight of skepticism from scientists around the world on the Russia vaccine. There is no published scientific to support support Putin's claims.

Updated 13 mins ago - Politics & Policy

New York AG alleges "significant evidence" of Trump Organization fraud

Combination images of former President Trump and New York State Attorney General Letitia James. Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images; Scott Heins/Getty Images

New York's attorney general filed a motion Tuesday seeking to compel former President Trump and two of his children, Donald Trump, Jr. and Ivanka Trump, to appear for sworn testimony in her office's civil investigation into the Trump Organization's financial dealings.

Why it matters: Attorney General Letitia James revealed new details in the court filing and a statement on her office's investigation into the Trump Organization's business practices, including a preliminary finding alleging the company used "fraudulent and misleading asset valuations to obtain economic benefits."

2 hours ago - Technology

Ex-N.Y. Post digital chief files lawsuit alleging sexual harassment

Richard B. Levine) (Photo by Richard Levine/Corbis via Getty Images

Former New York Post editor Michelle Gotthelf is suing her former employer, its parent company News Corp. and two editors, alleging she was reprimanded after complaining to senior executives that she was sexually harassed by retired N.Y. Post editor-in-chief Col Allan. The N.Y. Post issued a statement denying any wrongdoing.

Why it matters: "I felt that I owed it to myself and I owed it to the news organization and the people who answered to me," Gotthelf, who was a long time editor at the N.Y. Post, told Axios in an interview.