Did Dr. Fauci Disagree With Trump’s Decision to Curtail Travel From China?

During an interview with Maria Bartiromo on Fox News Business on Thursday, President Trump claimed: “when I closed the border to China, [Dr. Anthony Fauci] disagreed with that and then ultimately he agreed and said I saved hundreds of thousands of lives.” The president went on to repeat the claim, saying that due to his decision to restrict travel with China he was “criticized by everybody, including Dr. Fauci.”

The president’s comments contradict what both he and Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, have said in the past. During the April 13 coronavirus task force press briefing, Trump was asked if he and Fauci were “on the same page.” He responded: “Yeah, we have been from the beginning.” At the same press briefing, Fauci discussed how responsive Trump was to the recommendations made by the task force. After discussing the recommendations they made regarding mitigation, Fauci mentioned: “The travel [restriction] was another recommendation, when we went in and said, ‘We probably should be doing that.’ And the answer was ‘yes.’  And then another time was, ‘We should do it with Europe,’ and the answer was ‘yes.’  And the next time, ‘We should do it with the U.K.,’ and the answer was ‘yes.’”

While Fauci said in the earlier stages of the pandemic that a China travel ban was “not something that I think we’re even considering,” according to New York Times interviews with White House aides and Fauci himself, by January 30 the leading public health officials in the federal government were recommending travel restrictions with China to President Trump. Aides also told the Wall Street Journal that it was Fauci, CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield, and Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar that convinced the initially- skeptical Trump to make the decision. Azar’s explanation of the decision echoes this reporting, as he said the travel restrictions were implemented based on “the uniform recommendations of the career public health officials here at HHS.”

Fauci supported the travel restrictions with China publicly as well. At the task force press briefing on the day the restrictions were announced, Fauci said that “because there are so many unknowns here, we’re going to take the action that the secretary will describe [restricting travel from China], in a temporary way, to make sure we mitigate, as best as we possibly can, this risk.”

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