The ludicrous plot against Fauci

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When it's most critical for President Donald Trump and top health officials to be working together, CNN is learning that the White House may be trying to actively discredit Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert. CNN's Daniel Dale weighs in with the facts.

Posted: Jul 13, 2020 8:11 PM
Updated: Jul 13, 2020 8:11 PM

Since 1984, scientist and physician Anthony Fauci has led America's response to infectious disease, saving countless lives and gaining the world's gratitude as he advised five prior presidents. Now, as America's coronavirus pandemic death toll passes 135,000, a sixth president needs Dr. Fauci and his expertise. Instead, aides to President Donald Trump are trashing Fauci, apparently setting him up for bureaucratic assassination.

In another time, press reports on the plot against Fauci would spark incredulity. Who would order officials to talk smack about America's top germ-fighter when we need him most? On this day, as the Washington Post reports that its count of Trump's false and misleading statement passed the 20,000 mark, the logical answer is: The President, of course.

As anyone who watched Trump closely understands, he has a habit of attacking those who have tried to serve ethically in tough federal jobs or setting them up to be blamed at an opportune moment. He has done it to former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, former Defense Secretary James Mattis, former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, former Chief of Staff John Kelly and others. In every case the Trump's goal seems to be to avoid responsibility and explain away a failure.

The campaign against Fauci is following the Sessions model. Sessions, you will recall, tried to deal with the investigation of Russia's attack on the 2016 election, which benefited Trump, in a straightforward way by recusing himself from the inquiry. This caused the President to criticize him openly, and repeatedly, until eventually firing him.

Like Sessions, Fauci has tried to do his job as a scientist, elevating his discipline above his self-interest. The trouble here is that when science has contradicted the President, Fauci has kept faith with science. Whether it's testing, over-hyped treatments, or the country's response to the pandemic to date, he hasn't been afraid to speak truth to power.

Having chosen a life-saving mission over the President's happy talk, Fauci has found himself marginalized. No longer a regular presence when the administration briefs the press, he said he hasn't briefed the president in two months. Last Friday, Trump seemed to signal a campaign to discredit Fauci when he told Fox News talk host Sean Hannity, "Dr. Fauci's a nice man but he's made a lot of mistakes."

After Trump's dig, his aides went to the media with a list of statements that the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease had made and later revised. For example, in March, when the US had recorded few cases, Fauci said the virus was "not a major threat" and that "people should not be walking around with masks." The catalogue of "sins" circulated to journalists was offered anonymously, and resembled the kind of opposition research used to frame political attacks (The White House insisted on Monday that it was not trying to discredit Fauci, while Trump stated that the two had a very good relationship).

Missing from the whisper campaign is the fact that Fauci's statements were made long before much was known about the virus. He would soon change his position, warning that coronavirus was a major threat to public health and urging Americans to adopt a series of practices, like mask-wearing and social isolation, to slow the spread of the virus. In the meantime, the President who had refused to be seen wearing a mask until recently, spoke of the virus magically disappearing and advocated for unproven treatments and gathered thousands at a campaign rally in defiance of public health advice.

Note the difference between Fauci and Trump: One man, a dedicated public servant, offered his best analysis and, when new data emerged, corrected himself without hesitation so that lives might be saved. The other dug in to a don't-worry-about it position and has refused to budge as the passing months have led the US to become the leading global hotspot.

Just as the pandemic has revealed Trump's tragic limitations, his abuse of Fauci confirms the President's deep character flaws. Fauci's lifelong devotion to science has been guided by a commitment to facts and a focus on helping others. Trump's lifelong devotion, on the other hand, has been to himself. This has led him to consistently deny facts that conflict with his ends, while he seeks credit for all that is good and blames others for everything that goes wrong. Along the way he keeps a mental scoresheet, noting who places Trump above all else, and who might value, say, human life more.

On the day when Trump spoke to Fox News host Sean Hannity about Fauci's "mistakes" the President used his constitutional power to commute the prison sentence of his longtime buddy Roger Stone. Convicted of felonies then committed to protect Trump, Stone's crimes included obstruction of justice, witness tampering, and lying to protect his friend. That Stone was protected by the President while Fauci is being undermined says all you need to know about Trump's priorities, values, and character.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 613228

Reported Deaths: 9728
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion846851338
Lake45676687
Allen32980552
Hamilton29649315
St. Joseph27531382
Elkhart24478345
Vanderburgh19610250
Tippecanoe18108141
Johnson15191295
Porter14944169
Hendricks14485250
Madison11044222
Clark10811144
Vigo10795181
Monroe9458113
Delaware9170134
LaPorte9145164
Howard8292144
Kosciusko810183
Warrick680299
Hancock6782104
Bartholomew6640100
Floyd6507110
Wayne6177162
Grant6027116
Dubois558680
Boone556468
Morgan548695
Henry511464
Marshall506984
Cass486964
Dearborn486545
Noble475659
Jackson427747
Shelby420781
Lawrence393780
Clinton375044
Gibson374459
Harrison353045
DeKalb349864
Montgomery347654
Knox336239
Miami324544
Steuben315046
Whitley311126
Wabash305851
Adams302836
Ripley300546
Putnam298950
Huntington294860
Jasper291734
White275143
Daviess271774
Jefferson266238
Decatur249583
Fayette248648
Greene242262
Posey241028
Wells236951
LaGrange230062
Scott226839
Clay224332
Randolph215248
Jennings200636
Sullivan193533
Spencer193022
Washington188023
Fountain184927
Starke176444
Jay168623
Owen167637
Fulton164830
Orange160935
Carroll159715
Rush156318
Perry155929
Vermillion149734
Franklin149333
Tipton133133
Parke13088
Pike118526
Blackford111822
Pulaski97837
Newton92021
Brown88335
Benton87110
Crawford8099
Martin74913
Warren6857
Switzerland6695
Union6297
Ohio4977
Unassigned0376

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 868656

Reported Deaths: 10768
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin102154707
Cuyahoga865201153
Hamilton64744448
Montgomery43516419
Summit35250762
Lucas31663631
Butler31268232
Stark26096443
Warren19830142
Lorain19296229
Mahoning17471339
Lake16250154
Clermont16128112
Delaware1453680
Licking13326137
Fairfield1294981
Trumbull12920317
Greene12174141
Medina11732168
Clark11058265
Wood10457158
Allen9988127
Portage9454111
Miami924473
Richland9236118
Marion7486113
Tuscarawas7440183
Columbiana7409124
Pickaway732150
Wayne7111172
Muskingum710342
Erie6221130
Ross5558100
Hancock555292
Scioto542764
Geauga515955
Darke473492
Lawrence460658
Union456928
Ashtabula456473
Sandusky439562
Mercer435089
Seneca433866
Huron432841
Auglaize424164
Shelby422522
Jefferson422469
Belmont421145
Washington394240
Athens38389
Putnam378075
Madison358129
Knox356122
Ashland349038
Fulton340443
Defiance334486
Crawford325774
Preble322737
Brown315821
Logan312132
Ottawa296543
Clinton291543
Williams280367
Highland279018
Jackson265845
Guernsey257126
Champaign253428
Fayette239530
Morrow23464
Perry233718
Holmes226774
Henry221953
Hardin215533
Coshocton206922
Van Wert203445
Gallia199826
Wyandot196751
Pike178017
Adams177715
Hocking173224
Carroll157616
Paulding145321
Noble121040
Meigs109724
Monroe102232
Harrison89921
Morgan83931
Vinton71314
Unassigned00
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