It’s true that Fauci and other medical advisers initially opposed the travel restrictions. But they endorsed the restrictions before Trump did. The president reluctantly agreed to the move only after Fauci and others prodded him to do so.
At a press briefing on Feb. 7, Alex Azar, the secretary of health and human services, explained what happened. “The travel restrictions,” he said, “were the uniform recommendation of the career public health officials here at HHS.” Azar specifically named Fauci and Dr. Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “This was their considered recommendation, which I and the president adopted,” said Azar.
Azar’s statement matches reports in the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. A Times account, which quotes Redfield, says that on Jan. 30, Redfield, Fauci, and Azar endorsed the proposed restrictions. Azar then pitched the idea to Trump, but the president “was skeptical,” fearing economic repercussions. The Journal’s report concurs that Trump was “reluctant to sign off” on the proposal, “concerned about the signal it would send to markets and his relationship with President Xi Jinping, aides said.” But Trump “eventually agreed to it on the advice of Mr. Azar.”
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