Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top infectious disease expert in the country, got into a heated exchange with Trump economic adviser Peter Navarro at Saturday’s White House coronavirus task force meeting, Axios reports.
The argument was over the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine, which has been touted by Trump despite warnings from health experts, including Fauci.
Navarro put a stack of folders on the table and said “the studies that he's seen, I believe they're mostly overseas, show 'clear therapeutic efficacy,’” a source told the outlet.
The comments set off a “heated exchange” as Fauci pointed out there was only “anecdotal evidence” the drug was effective on coronavirus patients.
The remark “just set Peter off,” a source said.
"That's science, not anecdote," he said, pointing at the files.
Pence, Kushner interject:
The exchange spiraled as Navarro accused Fauci of opposing Trump’s travel restrictions on China.
"You were the one who early on objected to the travel restrictions with China," he claimed.
Fauci “looked confused,” according to sources in the room.
Vice President Mike Pence and adviser Jared Kushner were forced to intervene.
"It was pretty clear that everyone was just trying to get Peter to sit down and stop being so confrontational," one source said.
Trump blocks Fauci from discussing the drug:
A day later, Trump blocked Fauci from commenting on the drug at the White House news briefing.
"Would you also weigh in on this issue of hydroxychloroquine?" asked CNN reporter Jeremy Diamond. "What do you think about this?"
"Didn't you just ask that question?" Trump complained. “Fifteen times.”
"He's a doctor," Diamond replied.
"You don't have to answer the question," Trump told an awestruck Fauci. "I answered that question 15 times."
Fauci did not get to answer the question. He has previously warned that “we've got to be careful that we don't make that majestic leap to assume that this is a knockout drug.”