President Trump on Monday tweeted what appeared to be an attack on Dr. Deborah Birx, the coordinator of the White House coronavirus task force, for agreeing with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi over the administration’s approach to the pandemic.
“So Crazy Nancy Pelosi said horrible things about Dr. Deborah Birx, going after her because she was too positive on the very good job we are doing on combatting the China Virus, including Vaccines & Therapeutics,” Trump tweeted. “In order to counter Nancy, Deborah took the bait & hit us. Pathetic!”
It’s unclear who or what Trump considered “pathetic,” though the context suggests it was Birx for, in the president’s view, taking Pelosi’s “bait” and agreeing with the speaker.
In a closed-door meeting with White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin last week, Pelosi reportedly accused Birx of spreading disinformation about the coronavirus crisis, calling her the “worst” and adding that they were in “horrible hands” with her.
Pelosi repeated her criticism on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday.
“I think the president is spreading disinformation about the virus, and she is his appointee,” Pelosi said. “So I don’t have confidence there, no.”
On CNN’s “State of the Union,” Birx dismissed the suggestion that she has been painting too optimistic a view of the pandemic.
She also took issue with a New York Times article that characterized her as the “chief evangelist for the idea that the threat from the virus was fading.”
“I have never been called Pollyanna-ish or nonscientific or non-data-driven,” Birx said. “And I will stake my 40-year career on those fundamental principles of utilizing data to really implement better programs to save more lives.”
In the same interview, Birx said the country is in a “new phase” of the pandemic, and warned that projections showing more than 300,000 American deaths from the coronavirus by the end of the year could become reality. There have been more than 4.6 million confirmed COVID-19 cases in the United States, according to Johns Hopkins University, and over 154,000 deaths.
“What we are seeing today is different from March and April. It is extraordinarily widespread,” Birx said. “Anything is possible if we don’t have all — you know, public health is called public health because it has a public component. And we need all of the public to help us get control of this virus.”
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