White House blocks Fauci from testifying to Congress

Top U.S. health official Anthony Fauci will not testify next week to a House committee examining the Trump administration's response to the coronavirus pandemic.


That's according to the White House.


In an emailed statement to the House Appropriations subcommittee that oversees health programs, the White House said it was (quote) "counterproductive" to have individuals involved in the response to testify, but that the administration was quote "committed to working with Congress to offer testimony at the appropriate time".

(SOUNDBITE) U.S. PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP SAYING:

"The Democrats, they don't want to come back... I think they should be back here, but they don't. I think they're enjoying their vacation."

The announcement comes as Trump continues to clash with the Democratic-controlled House over its moves to investigate his actions or those of his administration.


In recent days, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer have urged wide-ranging investigations into Trump's handling of the coronavirus outbreak, which has more than 60,000 Americans.

(SOUNDBITE) PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP SAYING:

"And the testing is going really well and we're doing more than anybody else."

Democrats say Trump has failed to develop a comprehensive and effective plan for testing Americans and tracing contacts of those who are infected by the virus.

And Trump's relationship with 79-year-old Fauci can sometimes be a complicated one.

The well-regarded doctor has at times corrected or contradicted the president at White House briefings or in interviews.

(SOUNDBITE) DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR OF THE NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES, SAYING:

"We will have coronavirus in the Fall, I am convinced of that."


And Trump, who has largely followed the advice of Fauci and White House's coronavirus task force coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx, has occasionally shown exasperation with Fauci.


Last month he retweeted a supporter's #FireFauci message, but shot down rumors that he was firing him.

(SOUNDBITE) U.S. PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP SAYING:

"Today I walk in and I hear that I'm going fire him, I'm not going to fire him, I think he's a wonderful guy.... (reporters asking "why would you retweet something that said #fire Fauci?")... I think he's terrific, because this is a person's view. Not everybody is happy with Anthony, not everybody is happy with everybody."