The former White House coronavirus response coordinator told CBS News’s “Face The Nation” that she saw Trump presenting graphs about the coronavirus that she did not help make. Someone inside or outside of the administration, she said, “was creating a parallel set of data and graphics that were shown to the president.”
Birx also said that there were people in the White House who believed the coronavirus was a hoax and that she was one of only two people in the White House who routinely wore masks.
Birx was often caught between criticism from Trump, who at one point called her “pathetic” on Twitter when she contradicted his more optimistic predictions for the virus, and critics in the scientific community who thought she did not do enough to combat false information about the virus from Trump, The Post’s Meryl Kornfield reports.
“Colleagues of mine that I’d known for decades — decades — in that one experience, because I was in the White House, decided that I had become this political person, even though they had known me forever,” she told CBS. “I had to ask myself every morning, ‘Is there something that I think I can do that would be helpful in responding to this pandemic?’ And it’s something I asked myself every night.”
Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told the New York Times that Trump repeatedly tried to minimize the severity of the virus and would often chide him for not being positive enough in his statements about the virus.
Fauci also described facing death threats as he was increasingly vilified by the president’s supporters. “One day I got a letter in the mail, I opened it up and a puff of powder came all over my face and my chest,” he said. The powder turned out to be benign.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel told European Union (EU) countries Wednesday that the coronavirus pandemic is showing the limits of “fact-denying populism” as she urged the bloc to reach an agreement on an economic recovery package.
Merkel said that the EU “must show that a return to nationalism means not more, but less control,” according to France 24.
Without naming any specific nations, Merkel said: “We are seeing at the moment that the pandemic can’t be fought with lies and disinformation, and neither can it be with hatred and agitation.”
“Fact-denying populism is being shown its limits,” she added. “In a democracy, facts and transparency are needed. That distinguishes Europe, and Germany will stand up for it during its presidency.”
The pandemic has killed more than 100,000 people in the 27 EU nations and sparked what is expected to be the largest recession the continent has experienced in decades.
On Tuesday the EU released a report predicting the bloc’s economy will contract more than initially expected due to coronavirus-related lockdowns.
Merkel on Wednesday joined EU Economy Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni in urging the commission to quickly reach an agreement on the 750 billion-euro stimulus package proposed earlier this year.
“The depth of the economic decline demands that we hurry,” Merkel told lawmakers, according to The Associated Press. “We must waste no time — only the weakest would suffer from that. I very much hope that we can reach an agreement this summer. That will require a lot of readiness to compromise from all sides — and from you too.”