Dr. Anthony Fauci has become an unwilling headline-maker once again after being targeted earlier this week by Twitter owner Elon Musk, whom Fauci said he generally tries to ignore. "I don't respond to him," Fauci told CNN commentator David Axelrod in a snippet of a podcast aired Sunday. Now, as Fauci prepares to leave government service, including his 38-year role heading up the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, at the end of this month, the rest of that interview on The Axe Files has been released—and the infectious diseases specialist has some parting claims about former President Trump, revealing that Trump's White House was working to undermine him, even as Fauci tried to help the administration with COVID-19.
"You had the communication staff of the White House doing opposition research on me," Fauci told Axelrod of the "palace intrigue" going on at the peak of the pandemic, per Mediaite. He added to Axelrod, who served as a senior adviser to President Obama: "Could you imagine when you were in the White House, David, doing operation opposition research on one of your staff?" Axelrod replied, "Well, when I was there, we had our hands full, so I don't think I'd be spending time on that. No." Fauci recalled the difficult task he had of having to "publicly contradict the president of the United States" on COVID protocols, and that that tension led to "outright hostility that was unleashed against me." Still, Fauci says it was "the right decision" to speak out, and that "I'd do it again. I was put in a position that was uncomfortable, but I had to do what I did."
Meanwhile, Fauci has some parting words for the public in general, speaking in a guest op-ed for the New York Times on his work over the years. "We ... must acknowledge that our fight against COVID-19 has been hindered by the profound political divisiveness in our society," the doctor writes, noting the "disinformation and political ideology" driving that. "It is our collective responsibility to ensure that public health policy decisions are driven by the best available data," he adds, noting that he's "confident" that the next generation of scientists and public health experts will rise to the occasion, despite "the continual unexpected challenges they will inevitably face in doing so." Listen to more of Axelrod's conversation with Fauci here. (Read more Anthony Fauci stories.)