WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump praised Dr. Anthony Fauci and Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, after the two clashed at a congressional hearing Friday over preventing the spread of COVID-19.
“Great job by Jim Jordan, and also some very good statements by Tony Fauci. Big progress being made!” Trump tweeted aboard Air Force One as he traveled to Tampa, Florida, for talks on the coronavirus response and hurricane preparedness.
Trump later retweeted a post from Jordan protesting the fact people are discouraged to go to church, work, and school – issues on which he badgered Fauci during a hearing before the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis.
Fauci, often the subject of criticism from Trump and other Republicans, said people should avoid crowds – and children be kept away from them – in order to prevent the spread of the virus that has killed more than 150,000 Americans.
At one point, Jordan asked Fauci about the safety of mass protests against racism and police misconduct, and whether the government should limit or even ban those kinds of gatherings.
Fauci did not bite, telling the Ohio congressman: “I don’t understand what you’re asking (of) me as a public health official to opine on who should get arrested. That’s not my position.”
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“Any crowd, whether it’s a protest – any crowd of people close together without masks is a risk. And I’ll stick by that statement,” Fauci later said. “It’s a public health statement. It’s not a judgment.”
Fauci, who says he has a “complicated” relationship with Trump, has rarely hesitated to air his disagreements with the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus.
Trump has shunned Fauci at different points during the crisis, but the relationship appears to have warmed up in recent days. The president and the administration’s top epidemic expert appeared together at an event this week at the Red Cross headquarters.
Jordan, one of Trump’s most stalwart allies in Congress, has also been a Fauci critic.
At one point in the hearing, he told the doctor: “I haven’t seen people during a church service go out and harm police officers or burn buildings … No limit to protests, but you can’t go to church on Sunday.”