Trump sidelines and bars Fauci from speaking

A slightly less severe, though no less noticeable, step: Trump could cut off Fauci from making any media appearances whatsoever.

Already in March, White House officials started requiring federal health experts to get their approval for any public speaking engagement. And Fauci’s seen his time limited as the pandemic has dragged on, especially after the administration’s Covid-19 task force stopped conducting daily briefings.

It’s not an out-of-the-ordinary arrangement; NIH leadership had to clear its media appearances with the White House in Zerhouni’s time too, the former NIH director said.

“You have to go by the rules of communication in the government,” he said. “It’s very typical.”

But Trump has, at least in one case, taken things much farther. In late February, Nancy Messonnier, a high-ranking Centers for Disease Control and Prevention official, delivered a stark warning in a press briefing: The agency expected the coronavirus would soon begin spreading through American communities, and the disruptions to daily life could be “severe.”