House Speaker Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Sunday said she does not have confidence in White House coronavirus task force member Dr. Deborah Birx, after reportedly bashing her during a closed-door meeting earlier this week.
On ABC News’ “This Week,” host Martha Raddatz asked Pelosi about a Politico article from Friday, which reported that Pelosi had accused Birx of spreading disinformation about the pandemic.
“Do you have confidence in her?” Raddatz asked.
“I think [President Donald Trump] is spreading disinformation about the virus and she is his appointee,” Pelosi said. “So I don’t have confidence there, no.”
According to Politico, Pelosi told Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows that Birx, the response coordinator on the White House coronavirus task force, was “the worst.”
“Wow, what horrible hands you’re in,” the Democratic leader reportedly said before praising Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country’s top infectious disease expert who is also on the task force.
Pelosi’s private criticism followed a New York Times report that Birx had been telling Trump in recent months that the coronavirus threat in the U.S. was fading. Democrats have condemned Trump for repeatedly downplaying the threat of the virus and not taking swift, forceful action to contain it.
Birx in mid-April had been “optimistic” that the virus had peaked, according to the Times. Of course, new outbreaks have erupted across the country since then. The death toll in the U.S., which had surpassed 30,000 on April 15, has climbed to more than 154,000 as of Sunday.
Asked to address Pelosi’s comments Sunday, Birx told CNN’s “State Of The Union” that she has never been called “non-scientific.”
“I have tremendous respect for the speaker,” Birx said. “I have tremendous respect for her long dedication to the American people. And I think it was unfortunate that The New York Times wrote this article without speaking to me.”
She continued: “I could have brought forth the data. I provide data every single day with an analysis. ... I have never been called Pollyanna-ish or non-scientific or non-data-driven, and I will stake my 40-year career of those fundamental principles of utilizing data to really implement better programs to save more lives.”
Times reporters Maggie Haberman and Michael Shear, who wrote the report Birx appeared to call into question, said Sunday that they asked multiple times to speak with the doctor but she declined.
“When she declined repeatedly, we also sent her detailed questions through a White House spokesman that she also declined to answer, issuing only a general statement which we included in the story,” Shear tweeted.
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