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White House Denies Congressional Request For Dr. Anthony Fauci's Testimony

Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci, left, speaks as Response coordinator for White House Coronavirus Task Force Dr. Deborah Birx looks on during the daily briefing on the novel coronavirus, COVID-19,  at the White House in March.
Mandel Ngan
/
AFP via Getty Images
Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci, left, speaks as Response coordinator for White House Coronavirus Task Force Dr. Deborah Birx looks on during the daily briefing on the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, at the White House in March.

Updated at 12:21 p.m. on May 2

The White House will not allow the leading immunologist on the coronavirus task force to testify to Congress next week, calling the request "counter-productive" to the administration's efforts to contain the virus.

Dr. Anthony Fauci's testimony had been requested by the House Appropriations Committee, as part of an investigation into the White House response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

A committee spokesman on Friday said the White House had blocked the doctor from appearing before the panel.

"The Appropriations Committee sought Dr. Anthony Fauci as a witness at next week's Labor-HHS-Education Subcommittee hearing on COVID-19 response. We have been informed by an administration official that the White House has blocked Dr. Fauci from testifying," spokesman Evan Hollander said in a statement.

Fauci has become one of the most well recognized experts in the administration's coronavirus response team, often speaking publicly during task force briefings, and at times, seeming to contradict statements made by President Trump.

A White House official said: "We expressed openness from the White House to having him testify but requested we be given the parameters of what the hearing would entail so we could determine if he was the best guess or if it was someone else's jurisdiction."

The official said the chair didn't follow up, adding: "If this was truly a serious effort to have someone testify on the appropriations need around coronavirus, they certainly didn't handle it like it was."

On Friday, White House spokesman Judd Deere said in a statement that the administration was "committed to working with Congress to offer testimony at the appropriate time."

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Alana Wise joined WAMU in September 2018 as the 2018-2020 Audion Reporting Fellow for Guns & America. Selected as one of 10 recipients nationwide of the Audion Reporting Fellowship, Alana works in the WAMU newsroom as part of a national reporting project and is spending two years focusing on the impact of guns in the Washington region.
Alana Wise
Alana Wise is a politics reporter on the Washington desk at NPR.