Associated Press/J. Scott Applewhite
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham on Tuesday defended Dr. Anthony Fauci following a slew of attacks against him from the White House.
"We don't have a Dr. Fauci problem," Graham told reporters.
"We need to be focusing on doing things that get us to where we need to go. So, I have all the respect in the world for Dr. Fauci. I think any effort to undermine him is not going to be productive, frankly."
Graham's comments came after the White House circulated a list of misleading talking points over the weekend criticizing Fauci for fumbling the US's response to the coronavirus outbreak.
But Fauci found himself in President Donald Trump's crosshairs amid a resurgence of the virus' outbreak in the US, as well as recent polling showing that Americans trust Fauci more than Trump.
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina defended Dr. Anthony Fauci on Tuesday following a slew of attacks against him from the White House.
"We don't have a Dr. Fauci problem," Graham, who is the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, told reporters. "We need to be focusing on doing things that get us to where we need to go. So, I have all the respect in the world for Dr. Fauci. I think any effort to undermine him is not going to be productive, frankly."
Fauci is the nation's top infectious disease expert and a member of the White House coronavirus task force. But he's found himself in President Donald Trump's crosshairs amid a resurgence of the virus outbreak in the US, as well as recent polling showing that Americans trust Fauci more than Trump.
A series of Insider polls conducted with SurveyMonkey in mid-March, mid-April, and late April asked respondents to rate a number of key public figures on a scale of 1 to 5 based on how trustworthy they were for leadership and accurate information on the coronavirus.
In all three surveys, respondents gave Fauci and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo the highest ratings for their handling of COVID-19 and ranked Trump and senior White House adviser Jared Kushner at the bottom.
In a national poll of 1,337 registered voters conducted by The New York Times and Siena College in mid-June, 76% of respondents said they trusted Fauci for "accurate information" about the COVID-19 pandemic compared with just 26% who said they trusted Trump.
The Washington Post reported on Monday that Trump is rattled by Fauci's high approval among Americans.
Meanwhile, the outlet also reported over the weekend that the White House is circulating a list of talking points attacking Fauci for not taking the outbreak seriously enough from the beginning, even though Fauci is a member of Trump's own coronavirus task force.
The talking points criticized Fauci for not taking the outbreak seriously enough, even as the president himself continues downplaying the crisis, ignoring the warnings of public health officials, and urging US states to reopen their schools and economies even as new cases surge across the country.
Top Trump aides, including the White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany and trade adviser Peter Navarro, recently echoed those points and criticized Fauci for giving what they characterized as conflicting advice.
But as the Post and multiple public-health experts pointed out, the White House's talking points left out critical portions of Fauci's comments in which he specified that he was making assessments based on the best available information at the time, and that the outlook could dramatically shift down the road.
Graham's comments this week come as the US is seeing a surge in new cases of COVID-19. As of Tuesday, more than 3.3 million people across the country have been infected and over 135,000 have died as a result.
Grace Panetta contributed reporting.
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