Fauci on his fraught relationship with Trump and the attacks he has faced (2024)

Geoff Bennett:

Now part two of our conversation with Dr. Anthony Fauci.

Last night, we discussed his experience leading the country through two of the greatest public health crises of our time, HIV/AIDS and COVID-19.

Tonight, more on his fraught relationship with former President Trump, the partisan attacks he faced that turned into real threats, and how he views his own legacy after a nearly six-decade career, all of it captured in his new memoir, "On Call: A Doctor's Journey in Public Service."

What was your relationship behind the scenes with President Trump like?

Dr. Anthony Fauci, Former Chief Medical Adviser to President Biden: Well, I described it in some detail in the book.

It was really — it was complicated, because, when we first met, we had a real good rapport with us. You know, I describe it, maybe it was sort of a guy raised in Queens and a guy raised in Brooklyn. We had that similar New York swagger, whatever you want to call it, that we related to each other.

In the beginning, he actually listened to what we were saying and went along with it. But when it became clear that the virus was not going to disappear and it was not going to peak in February and go away in March and April, the way the flu does, and as we got into the season of preparing for the election, then we started to go separately, because that's when I had to contradict him, which was painful for me to do that.

The people in the White House staff thought I was doing that because I wanted to get at — not at all. It was not comfortable for me to do that. But that's when it went from, hey, we're buddy-buddies to this guy doesn't know what he's talking about, he's wrong most of the time, and those kinds of things.

So it started off of actually quite a good relationship.

Dr. Anthony Fauci:

Well, I think, at the moment I was giving the information to him, he was receptive.

But the way the White House worked is that you walked out of the Oval Office or the Situation Room, and then somebody else would be talking to him. And it is, I would say, not likely, but it happened that that would contradict the information that I gave him.

So, it isn't as if I tell him this and I'm the last word, as well as with Deborah Birx too. I mean, she would say something, and maybe not the last word. And that's what happened when Scott Atlas came into the White House, and he would undermine some of the things that Deb Birx and I were trying to tell him.

Dr. Anthony Fauci:

I'm very concerned, I mean, deeply concerned about what misinformation and disinformation has done, because, right now, we have what I have called and have written about as the normalization of untruths.

There's so much false information and untruths out there that, after a while, people shrug their shoulders and say, well, we don't know what's true. And once you have a doubt as to what's true or not, science, which is based on the truth and data and evidence, all of a sudden, you stop trusting the scientific process and science. And that's really dangerous.

Dr. Anthony Fauci:

It's required some sacrifice.

In a perfect world, where there's no conflict, it's hard work, long hours, but very, very gratifying. And the rewards that you get personally of seeing what you can do, saving lives, making people feel more safe is — makes up for all the 16-and 18-hour days.

When you throw into that the complication of the divisiveness that we had to face, that makes it much, much more stressful, because it's tough enough, and the gratification is there. But when you have what I and my colleagues — I'm not alone — had to go through, that's tough.

And I hope that that's not a disincentive for people to want to go into science, medicine, public health, and public service. But I keep saying — and I'm honest about it, the truth — is that the gratification that you can get from saving lives and protecting the health of the American public is overwhelmingly, in the balance of risk/benefit, the benefit is way out there.

Dr. Anthony Fauci:

You know, I think it's simple. I think, when you talk about legacy, to me, legacy are for other people to evaluate years from now or maybe a year or two or maybe 10 years from now.

What I would like people to know, if they ask me, what do you want me to know about you, is that, without a doubt, I gave it 100 percent, 110 percent every day. And to use a metaphor from sports, I left it all out on the court every day. And that's what I want to be remembered for.

Whether you think I did well or how good I was or what might come, that's what I did every day.

Fauci on his fraught relationship with Trump and the attacks he has faced (2024)
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