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Donald Trump rewrites history on Fauci and Covid response

He's fooling no one. Credit: Getty

May 29, 2024 - 4:30pm

Add Donald Trump to the long list of pandemic-era politicians trying to rewrite history to omit their Covid policy mistakes. This week, the former president sat for an interview with popular YouTuber Tim Pool in which he attempted to downplay the extent of his cooperation with Dr Anthony Fauci during the early days of the Covid-19 outbreak.

“Fauci wasn’t a big player in my administration like he was after I left,” Trump said. “And Biden made him the king of everything
 Fauci was not the big player with me and, in fact, I did things that he didn’t want to do.”

It may be true that Trump didn’t always follow Fauci’s advice. But the notion that Fauci wasn’t a “big player” in the administration’s handling of the pandemic is a bold-faced lie. In his prominent role as National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) director, Fauci was front-and-centre at press conference after press conference with Trump.

The then-President referred to Fauci as one of the “best” and “most talented people on Earth”. Even after the doctor’s initial popularity faded and Trump faced calls from within the Republican Party to fire him, he rebuffed this, saying “he’s a wonderful guy.” At the very end of Trump’s presidency, he even awarded Fauci a presidential commendation in recognition of his “exceptional efforts” on Covid-19.

Dr Fauci was also intimately involved in directly shaping the Trump administration’s pandemic policies. For example, on 3 April, 2020, the president formally recommended that Americans wear cloth masks — something we now know was nearly useless — and Fauci was intimately involved with shaping and promoting this policy. What’s more, as a member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force Fauci played an influential role in shaping Trump’s official guidelines for states to use when reopening from lockdown. The former president also appointed Fauci to a key position in his “Operation Warp Speed”, the (widely praised) programme under which the Covid-19 vaccine was developed.

Trump isn’t the only one who has tried to quietly amend his Covid record. President Joe Biden, for example, has repeatedly downplayed the extent to which the Trump administration had already fleshed out the Covid-19 vaccination programme before he took control. “Just over four weeks ago, America had no real plan to vaccinate most of the country,” Biden said shortly after taking office, alleging that Trump had “failed to order enough vaccines, failed to mobilise the effort to administer the shots, failed to set up vaccine centres. That changed the moment we took office.”

As FactCheck.org points out, this is false on two counts: Trump had ordered enough vaccines and did have a plan to administer the vaccine. But Biden wanted more credit for the rollout, so he decided to tweak the history in his favour.

In yet another example of this kind of Covid duplicity, former New York governor Andrew Cuomo recently made waves after claiming that the intense pandemic-era restrictions placed on New Yorkers were “voluntary”. “Government had no capacity to enforce any of this,” Cuomo claimed. “If they said ‘I’m not wearing a mask’ there was nothing I could do about it.”

“It was really all voluntary,” he concluded. “It was extraordinary when you think about it. That society acted with that uniformity voluntarily.” Tell that to the people who were fined and/or arrested for failing to comply with mask mandates or business closures.

It’s understandable that elected officials whose decisions during the pandemic aged poorly want to evade scrutiny for their mistakes. But democracy only functions when we hold our leaders to account. We shouldn’t stand for it when politicians, regardless of party, try to escape accountability by rewriting history and gaslighting the public.


Brad Polumbo is an independent journalist, YouTuber, and host of the DAMAGE CONTROL podcast dedicated to reclaiming common sense on LGBT issues. 

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T Bone
T Bone
25 days ago

This is fair. I cut Trump a little slack because he didn’t want to appear reckless with lives and deferred to the “Expert Class” but DeSantis handled Covid infinitely better with more leadership than the Trumper.

Damon Hager
Damon Hager
20 days ago
Reply to  T Bone

I suspect that Trump, like Johnson in the UK, wanted the lightest of Covid responses.
The bottom line is, the media spread irrational terror, the public wet their pants, and politicians sensed that acting rationally (i.e., resisting loony overreactions) was tantamount to political death.

J Bryant
J Bryant
25 days ago

The incentive for politicians to distance themselves from the pandemic response increases almost daily as the full scope of social/economic/psychological harm caused by the restrictions becomes evident.
If health records of people who were young children during the pandemic are followed over their lifetime into old age, my guess is a pattern of immune dysfunction will emerge. They will disproportionately suffer from immune dysregulation syndromes, such as fibromyalgia, where the immune system either over-reacts or underreacts and causes a diffuse range of symptoms. Those kids were isolated from the normal pathogens/mild infections that train their immune systems and, sadly, they’ll pay for it in years to come.
Much hyperbole has been used in connection with the pandemic, but I think it’s fair to say that, when viewed from the vantage point of forty or fifty years in the future, the ill-considered, politically-motivated pandemic response will be recognized as truly a crime against humanity.

R Wright
R Wright
25 days ago

Until the day I shuffle off this mortal coil I refuse to forget the cowardice and malice that was displayed by so many during the Covid years. It will forever be indelible in my hippocampus.

Seb Dakin
Seb Dakin
24 days ago
Reply to  R Wright

Me too. I only hope many others share that view and, should a similar set of circumstances arise in the future, raise hell hard and early if civil liberties are set to be trampled upon again.

Fran Martinez
Fran Martinez
24 days ago
Reply to  R Wright

Couldn’t agree more!

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
25 days ago

Trump was just as awful as almost every political leader in the west. He brought in Scott Atlas for advice, but didn’t listen to him. I would respect someone more if they at least owned their mistakes.

Carlos Danger
Carlos Danger
25 days ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

The problem is that Donald Trump and the whole federal government lacked the power to do anything. In the United States public health has always been a state and local matter. My county health officer in San Mateo County, California, for example, was issuing rules that were much stricter than the state rules, and were much, much stricter than the nonbinding national guidelines.
So don’t blame Donald Trump for being awful. He did listen to Scott Atlas, but it didn’t much matter. State and local officials are the ones to blame, and none of them did very well.

Fred D. Fulton
Fred D. Fulton
20 days ago
Reply to  Carlos Danger

Hi. I disagree. Our ‘national’ leaders (Trump in the US, Trudeau in Canada, other countries with similar setups) set the pace for public policy, even when the matter at hand (in this case health) is notionally outside of their jurisdiction. National leaders have every lever at their disposal to strong-arm other leaders within their nation’s borders. For starters, they shape national opinion; and they have many other tools at hand. Eg: if Trump had shown intelligence or backbone, he certainly would have influenced other Republicans (senators, congressmen). But he didn’t. He failed as badly as everyone else. The Swedes were infinitely more intelligent, and displayed genuine integrity. Ron DeSantis too. I remember Trump talking about “embers” in breathy tones. What a dope, what a missed opportunity.

Champagne Socialist
Champagne Socialist
25 days ago

Donald Trump telling porkies?
I’m shocked! LOL!

Carlos Danger
Carlos Danger
24 days ago

Tony Fauci was on the news media constantly, but that doesn’t mean much. As the director of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases, he was a bureaucrat who doled out billions of dollars for research. He had no power and did nothing as far as public health matters.
Tony Fauci was a big part of Operation WarpSpeed, but that was because the NIAID had been working with Moderna on the new mRNA technology for years. Tony Fauci was already working on the vaccine in January 2020.
I think Donald Trump’s comment is a fair one.

j watson
j watson
24 days ago

It’s painful for many to recognise but the Right was in power both sides of Atlantic during the height of the pandemic and put in place 99% of the rules.
Regardless I think one needs to distinguish between how leaders reacted initially when there was much less information and more uncertainty, and then what occurred/continued later. One also has to recognise political decisions had determined the degree of resilience important systems had as we went into the pandemic.

A MacK
A MacK
23 days ago
Reply to  j watson

Maybe I was asleep but seem to remeber it differently: On the UK side of the Atlantic the mental side of the argument were baying at the Tories (in power) to lock down, control and vaccinate everyone longer, harder and faster. This was mainly the so-called “Left”.

Starmer, Drakeford, Sturgeon all wanted (and implemented where they could) stronger measures than the Tories implemented and took no time to condemn BoJo as a granny killer, leading to his volte farce.

All that despite the cast-iron FACT that the early data (Diamond Princess etc.) confirmed there was absolutely no threat whatsoever to most folk (other than a raised threat amongst the over 80s) and certainly not to kids and young adults whose lives were then totally ruined by totally ineffectual Lockdowns and mass “vaccination”… Supported by all sides but bayed for by those individuals name checked above and their side-kicks. Who incidentally also believe a Woman can have a P* enis…

The Left really let itself down and, where I’m from, will be remembered forever for being worse than the bl@@ding Tories….

Fred D. Fulton
Fred D. Fulton
20 days ago
Reply to  A MacK

Sorry M Mack. j watson above has it correctly. This sorded affair did not split along the left-right divide. Britain and US are the best proof. In Ontario, Canada: also an example: We have an ostensibly conservative leader (our Premier) who failed as completely as did Johnson & Trump — also Trudeau, Macron, you name him/her.

Daniel Lee
Daniel Lee
24 days ago

Trump’s actions were in the early phase of the epidemic, when little to nothing was known about it and it did, for a while, seem to be better safe than sorry. The following three years of ebbing and surging disease authoritarianism was entirely the work of the political Left – which never misses a chance to lord it over the peasants.

Bryan Dale
Bryan Dale
24 days ago

The federal government made recommendations but I don’t recall the federal government mandating lockdowns. Trump left the decisions to the states which was really the correct constitutional decision, although many were demanding he do it anyway.

Damon Hager
Damon Hager
20 days ago

I’m all in favour of holding people to account. So: let’s start by holding to account the frogging media who did so much to stoke collective hysteria.