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White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany denied on Wednesday that the Trump administration had blocked Dr. Anthony Fauci from testifying before a House committee, calling the charge “farcical.” But the bottom line is that he is not scheduled to testify.
McEnany’s assertion appears to contradict President Trump, who said a day earlier that Fauci was, in fact, being blocked from appearing before the House Appropriations Committee “because the House is a bunch of Trump haters.”
McEnany, in her second briefing in her new role, blamed House Democrats, saying that Chairwoman Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., “did not act in good faith” when discussing Fauci’s possible appearance before her committee with White House chief of staff Mark Meadows.
“Mark Meadows had three calls with Chairwoman Nita Lowey three nights ago when she called to ask if Dr. Fauci could testify before a subcommittee hearing and chief of staff Mark Meadows has made clear he wants to make the best use he can of the task force members’ time,” McEnany said, adding that “Lowey was unable to tell the chief of staff what the subject matter was.”
Noting that Fauci is scheduled to testify next week before the Republican-controlled Senate, McEnany charged that a press release by Democrats saying Fauci was being silenced amounted to a “publicity stunt.”
“The notion that he’s being blocked is farcical,” McEnany said.
Pressed on whether the Democratic-controlled House had the same oversight function as the Republican-controlled Senate, McEnany, a former Fox News commentator who moved to the White House from the Trump reelection campaign, dodged the question.
“The House needs to act in good faith. We don’t have time, in the middle of a pandemic, for publicity stunts. It’s not the time for that. It’s not the place for that,” McEnany said.
Last Friday, White House spokesman Judd Deere said that it would be “counterproductive” to have Fauci, who is the leading expert on infectious diseases on the coronavirus task force, testify while continuing to work on the pandemic.
On Tuesday, however, Trump told reporters he was blocking Fauci from testifying “because the House is a bunch of Trump haters.”
Hours later, at a campaign-style event in Arizona, Trump indicated that he was ready to shut down the coronavirus task force. On Wednesday, the president backtracked, saying he would keep the task force in place.
“I thought we could wind it down sooner. But I had no idea how popular the task force is until, actually, yesterday when I started talking about winding it down,” Trump told reporters from the White House.”
Fauci, Trump said, would continue his role with the task force.
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