(CNN) — The nation’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, described the challenges of working with the Trump administration during the coronavirus pandemic in an interview with journal Science published Sunday.
Asked how he responds to falsehoods from the President during press conferences, Fauci said, “I can’t jump in front of the microphone and push him down,” according to the interview.
“OK, he said it. Let’s try and get it corrected for the next time,” Fauci said.
The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Fauci has advised six presidents and has played a central role in the White House’s Coronavirus Task Force.
“I’m sort of exhausted,” Fauci said in the interview. “But other than that, I’m good. I mean, I’m not, to my knowledge, coronavirus infected. To my knowledge, I haven’t been fired.”
While Fauci said he and the President “disagree on some things,” he described Trump as responsive: “He goes his own way. He has his own style. But on substantive issues, he does listen to what I say.”
Fauci was specifically asked about some of Trump’s comments, including his assertion that China should have told US officials about the coronavirus three months sooner. That would have been around September, and there is no evidence Chinese officials were aware of the virus at that time.
“It just doesn’t comport with facts,” said the interviewer, Jon Cohen.
“I know, but what do you want me to do?” Fauci replied. “I mean, seriously Jon, let’s get real. What do you want me to do?”
Fauci also said he had never used the term “China virus.” Asked if he ever would, Fauci responded, “No.”
In the interview, Fauci described testing as “one clear issue that needs to be relooked at. Why were we not able to mobilize on a broader scale?” But asking those questions right now was “premature,” Fauci said. “We really need to look forward.”
Cohen, the Science reporter, also brought up a widely memed moment from Friday’s White House press briefing.
As the President spoke of the “Deep State Department,” Fauci was caught on camera putting his hand over his face in apparent frustration.
“Have you been criticized for what you did?” Cohen asked.
“No comment,” Fauci said.