‘A political animal’: Atlas attacks Fauci, escalating feud between Trump’s pandemic advisers

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Dr. Scott Atlas, one of President Donald Trump’s chief coronavirus advisers, publicly attacked Dr. Anthony Fauci on Tuesday — accusing the nation’s top infectious disease expert of being a “political animal” who adjusted his dire assessments of the pandemic after Election Day.

The remarks from Atlas, who has earned the White House’s favor by downplaying the disease’s threat, came on Fox News’ “The Ingraham Angle,” after host Laura Ingraham contrasted comments Fauci made last month about a potential vaccine timeline with more optimistic comments he made earlier Tuesday.

Of course, in the time between those two interviews by Fauci, drugmaker Pfizer announced that it had found its coronavirus vaccine candidate to be more than 90 percent effective. The results are the first Phase III data from any of the four vaccine candidates now in the final stage of testing in the United States.

Nevertheless, Atlas said on Tuesday that perhaps Fauci had “cheered up because of the election,” echoing the president’s unfounded allegations that elected officials and even his own administration’s health experts are being dishonest about the pandemic in an effort to dent his political fortunes.

“There’s all kinds of prognostications that were made — all negative, all to undermine what the reality of the timelines were, all to undermine the president,” Atlas added of Fauci’s comments. “And I think, you know, once you do that sort of thing and make yourself a political animal, basically, you lose your credibility.”

Atlas’ remarks represent a continuation of the criticism the president has leveled at Fauci that escalated in the run-up to last week’s election. Last month, Trump described Fauci as a “disaster” in a call with campaign staff, and he hinted at a rally last week that he would fire Fauci after Election Day.

The sniping between Atlas and Fauci, however, has been less visible — although the two doctors have traded barbs in the press over the other’s credentials and counsel to the president. Atlas has emerged in recent months as a leading adviser to the White House’s coronavirus response because of his rosier pandemic outlook and aversion to Covid-19 restrictions.

Atlas is a physician with no expertise in infectious diseases or epidemiology. Fauci, an immunologist, has led the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases for more than three decades.

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