White House Distances Trump from Navarro's Anti-Fauci Op-Ed, Says Opinion's 'Peter's Alone'

When Peter Navarro, a top trade adviser to President Donald Trump, made it clear that he doesn't value Dr. Anthony Fauci's opinion on the new coronavirus pandemic, he was speaking for himself and himself alone, the White House said.

An op-ed Navarro penned for USA Today lambasted Fauci for being "wrong about everything I have interacted with him on," including the use of masks, the threat of the new coronavirus and the use of hydroxychloroquine. It was the latest in a series of criticisms Trump officials leveled at Fauci in recent days.

Alyssa Farrah, director of strategic communications for the White House, said it was not representative of the thinking of the entire Administration.

"The Peter Navarro op-ed didn't go through normal White House clearance processes and is the opinion of Peter alone," Farrah posted on Twitter on Wednesday. "[Donald Trump] values the expertise of the medical professionals advising his Administration."

Newsweek reached out to Peter Navarro for comment but did not receive a response in time for publication.

peter navarro donald trump anthony fauci coronavirus
Director of the National Trade Council Peter Navarro looks on as President Donald Trump meets with supply chain distributors in reference to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, in the Cabinet Room in the West Wing at the White House on Sunday, March 29. On Wednesday, the White House said Navarro's op-ed criticizing Dr. Anthony Fauci was his lone opinion and did not go through the normal White House clearing process. Pete Marovich-Pool/Getty

The op-ed elaborated on a comment Navarro made to The Washington Post for an article published Saturday. He once again complimented Fauci on his "good bedside manner with the public" but reiterated that he listens to advice from the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases with "caution."

Navarro contrasted his and the Administration's response to the pandemic with Fauci's comments and action. While he warned of a possibly deadly pandemic in a January memo, Navarro wrote in the op-ed that Fauci was "telling the news media not to worry" and maintained the risk of the virus was low in February.

The trade adviser also criticized Fauci for "flip-flopping" on the use of masks and telling the White House Coronavirus Task Force there was only anecdotal evidence to support using hydroxychloroquine as a treatment.

"So when you ask me whether I listen to Dr. Fauci's advice, my answer is: only with skepticism and caution," Navarro said.

Navarro's not the only member of the Administration to break with Fauci in recent days and on Monday, Daniel Scavino Jr., the White House's deputy chief of staff for communications, posted a political cartoon mocking the NIAID director on Facebook. Trump himself has been critical of Fauci, saying he's "made a lot of mistakes."

As the White House denied Fauci was being sidelined from the coronavirus response, people rallied around the infectious disease expert. Thomas M. File, Jr., president of the Infectious Disease Society of America, said in a statement on Tuesday that knowledge changing over time is "to be expected" and policies and protocols should be reshaped as "new scientifically rigorous data become available."

Dr. Tom Frieden, who headed the CDC under President Barack Obama, posted on Twitter that recommending masks after recognizing asymptomatic transmission is "called science, not a mistake." The actual "deadly mistake is not listening to science," Frieden wrote in the tweet.