During his first press briefing appearance as a member of the Biden administration, Dr. Anthony Fauci got in a couple of digs at the previous regime.
The first question went to Fox News’ new White House correspondent Peter Doocy, who chased that network’s narrative by asking, “How helpful would it have been if Amazon had gotten involved in the federal response to COVID-19 before Biden took office?”
“No, I don’t think I could answer that question,” Fauci replied, shaking his head dismissively. “One of the new things in this administration is if you don’t know the answer, don’t guess, just say you don’t know the answer.”
Next up, NBC News’ Kristen Welker asked Fauci if the Trump administration’s lack of action on the pandemic is currently “delaying” efforts to get as many Americans vaccinated as possible.
He diplomatically said, “We’re coming in with fresh ideas, but also some ideas that were not bad ideas with the previous administration, you can’t say it was absolutely not usable at all.” Fauci also confirmed that he still believes that “most” Americans will be vaccinated by the middle of this year.
Later, Fauci responded to a direct question about his experience so far under Biden compared to his time with Trump by noting that going forward, “One of the things that we’re going to do is to be completely transparent, open and honest, if things go wrong, not point fingers, but to correct them, and to make everything we do be based on science and evidence.”
Asked if that means he now wants to “clarify” anything he said when that was not the case under Trump, Fauci said, “no,” because he always spoke from that perspective anyway.
“That’s why I got in trouble sometimes,” he said to knowing laughter from the press corps.
The “trouble” to which he referred mostly amounted to repeated threats from Trump himself to “fire” him from his long-held position as the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases—even though it was never clear that the president had the legal ability to do so.
In the final weeks before the 2020 election, Fauci accused the Trump campaign of “in effect, harassing” him by taking his words out of context in campaign ads. “I think it’s really unfortunate and really disappointing that they did that,” he said.
Subsequently, Trump himself called Fauci a “disaster” and an “idiot” and during his final rally before Election Day responded to a “Fire Fauci” chant by telling his supporters, “Don’t tell anybody, but let me wait until a little bit after the election,” adding, “I appreciate the advice.”