Former President Donald Trump fired back at his onetime coronavirus adviser, Dr. Deborah Birx, after she told CNN that the previous administration could have prevented hundreds of thousands of deaths from the coronavirus and that she had a “very uncomfortable” conversation with Trump.
“Dr. Birx is a proven liar with very little credibility left,” Trump said in a statement Monday.
Trump, claiming many of Birx’s recommendations were viewed as “pseudo-science,” said that even top White House coronavirus adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci “would always talk negatively about her and, in fact, would ask not to be in the same room with her.”
Earlier Monday, former Trump Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said Birx’s statements in the CNN interview were “patently false.”
“Well, what we heard from the CNN report last night was rhetoric that we never heard in the West Wing from Deborah Birx or Dr. Fauci,” Meadows said in an interview with onetime Trump chief strategist Steve Bannon.
Meadow said he hopes that for her sake, CNN edited some of her remarks, taking them out of context.
“For Dr. Birx to say that hundreds of thousands of people’s lives would have been saved if we had done things differently, is patently false and not accurate and was never uttered in the White House,” he said on Bannon’s “War Room” show.
In her CNN interview, Birx said the quickly changing circumstances of the early days of the virus made the first 100,000 deaths in the U.S. difficult to prevent.
But she insisted that had the Trump administration acted more decisively, the subsequent deaths “could have been mitigated or decreased substantially.”
The official count in the U.S. is more than 545,000 deaths.
Birx said the “very uncomfortable” conversation came after she conducted a TV interview last year in which she described the situation as dire.
“I think you’ve heard other conversations other people have posted with the president. I would say it was even more direct than what people have heard,” Birx said. “It was very uncomfortable, very direct, very difficult to hear.”
‘She is not salvaging her reputation’
If Birx was trying to rehabilitate her reputation with the Washington political and media establishment, she can’t be pleased with the reaction to the CNN interview.
Among the critics were veteran network political analyst Jeff Greenfield, who has worked for ABC, CBS, CNN and PBS.
“The idea that Dr. Birx knew the White House was sending out false information on COVID, and that Trump was intimidating her, makes her performance last year particularly contemptible,” he wrote on Twitter.
“She is not salvaging her reputation in latest interviews, she is burying it.”
‘I seldom followed her advice’
In his statement Monday, Trump also criticized Fauci, who appeared in the CNN feature.
“Based on their interviews, I felt it was time to speak up about Dr. Fauci and Dr. Birx, two self-promoters trying to reinvent history to cover for their bad instincts and faulty recommendations, which I fortunately almost always overturned,” Trump said. “They had bad policy decisions that would have left our country open to China and others, closed to reopening our economy, and years away from an approved vaccine—putting millions of lives at risk.”
Trump said the states that followed Birx’s advice, such as California, “had worse outcomes on Covid, and ruined the lives of countless children because they couldn’t go to school, ruined many businesses, and an untold number of Americans who were killed by the lockdowns themselves.”
“Dr. Birx was a terrible medical advisor, which is why I seldom followed her advice.”
However, it was Birx and Fauci who persuaded Trump to implement the “15 days to slow the spread” guidelines that launched the lockdowns.
Birx and Fauci came to Trump with a model published by Neil Ferguson of Imperial College of London forecasting 2.2 million American deaths from COVID-19.
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