The White House on Wednesday tried to distance itself from presidential adviser Peter Navarro, who had criticized the nation's top infectious disease expert in a recent newspaper article.
In an op-ed published in USA Today on Tuesday, Navarro scathingly criticized Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a key member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, for his handling of the pandemic.
Navarro wrote that Fauci "has been wrong about everything I have interacted with him on."
"So when you ask me whether I listen to Dr. Fauci's advice, my answer is: only with skepticism and caution," Navarro wrote at the end of the short piece.
On Wednesday, the White House said Navarro's op-ed didn't go through a clearance process by the administration's communications officials before its publication.
"The Peter Navarro op-ed didn't go through normal White House clearance processes and is the opinion of Peter alone," tweeted Alyssa Farah, the White House director of strategic communications, adding that President Donald Trump "values the expertise of the medical professionals advising his Administration."
Trump, for his part, expressed his dissatisfaction with Navarro over the article, telling reporters that Navarro "made a statement representing himself. He shouldn't be doing that."
"We're all on the same team, including Dr. Fauci," Trump said as he departed the White House for Georgia.
The latest drama came as the White House reportedly stepped up efforts to discredit Fauci, attempts the expert called "bizarre," according to a series of interviews published by The Atlantic magazine on Wednesday. "Ultimately, it hurts the president to do that," Fauci said.
Responding to Navarro's attacks, which ranged from travel ban and personal protective equipment to hydroxychloroquine and mortality rate, Fauci said: "I can't explain Peter Navarro. He's in a world by himself. So I don't even want to go there."