White House blocks virus expert from testifying to Congress committee

Anthony Fauci; Covid-19
Dr Anthony Fauci

The White House has reportedly blocked coronavirus task force member Dr Anthony Fauci from testifying at a hearing on the Covid-19 outbreak.

The House Appropriations Committee wanted Dr Fauci to be a witness on the government’s response to the pandemic.

Committee spokesman Evan Hollander the panel was informed by an administration official that Dr Fauci’s testimony was blocked by the White House.

The White House said Dr Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, is busy dealing with the pandemic and will appear before Congress later.

He is set to appear the week after next at a Senate hearing, a spokesman for the Health, Education, Labour and Pensions committee said. The Senate is held by Mr Trump’s Republican allies while the House is controlled by Democrats.

White House spokesman Judd Deere said: “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.

“We are committed to working with Congress to offer testimony at the appropriate time.”

Dr Fauci is the top scientist on US President Donald Trump’s coronavirus task force and is no stranger to testifying before Congress.

He has sometimes contradicted Mr Trump’s optimistic statements about the virus and how much it is under control after claiming more than 64,000 lives in the US.

Dr Fauci has warned against relaxing social distancing rules that have helped slow the spread of the virus but caused a major hit to the economy.

That has earned him criticism from some of Mr Trump’s most ardent supporters, and Mr Trump himself has retweeted a supporter who called for Dr Fauci’s firing.

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