Dr. Deborah Birx emerged from a meeting at the White House one day in late summer with a new resolution: Never again would she sit in a meeting with Dr. Scott Atlas and listen to him pontificate on the pandemic.

That’s when she went all-in on a plan to essentially abandon the White House and avoid the growing influence of Atlas, a radiologist with no expertise in epidemiology who was nevertheless rising in influence with President Donald Trump.

Birx, a physician with decades of experience in global health, told a friend that she would take her message directly to the people and simply sidestep the kind of misleading messages she’d just heard from Atlas in that meeting. The friend requested anonymity to discuss the exchange with CNN.