The White House on Friday blocked the US’s top infectious disease expert from testifying before Congress next week.
The House Appropriations Committee sought Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Antony Fauci, to appear at a hearing on President Donald Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
“We have been informed by an administration official that the White House has blocked Dr. Fauci from testifying,” spokesman Evan Hollander said in a statement.
Fauci, a key member of the White House coronavirus task force, is seen as a reliable source of information by people in the US, where nearly 65,000 people have died from the coronavirus. At times he has contradicted Trump’s remarks at task force briefings.
Later, White House spokesman Judd Deere said it is “counter-productive” to have Fauci appear at the hearing.
“While the Trump Administration continues its whole-of-government response to COVID-19, including safely opening up America again and expediting vaccine development, it is counter-productive to have the very individuals involved in those efforts appearing at Congressional hearings,” said Deere.
“We are committed to working with Congress to offer testimony at the appropriate time,” he added.
The hearing was scheduled by Democratic congresswoman Rosa DeLaura of Connecticut.
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