Fauci says his comments taken out of context in Trump campaign ad

The nation’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, took issue Sunday with the use of his comments in an ad released by President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign, saying that his words were taken out of context.

>> Read more trending news

The 30-second ad released Saturday highlights the Trump administration’s work in response to the coronavirus pandemic and includes a short clip of Fauci.

“I can’t imagine anybody could be doing more,” he says in the ad.

The clip comes from a Fox News interview from March in which the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases praised the work being done by the White House coronavirus task force, according to CNN. The news network was the first to report on Fauci’s reaction to being used in the Trump campaign ad.

“I was totally surprised,” Fauci told The New York Times. “The use of my name and my words by the G.O.P. campaign was done without my permission, and the actual words themselves were taken out of context, based on something that I said months ago regarding the entire effort of the task force.”

He told CNN in a statement that he’s never publicly endorsed a political candidate in his nearly five decades of public service.

In a statement obtained by Reuters, Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh said the comment used in the Trump re-election ad was “accurate and directly from Dr. Fauci’s mouth.”

“As Dr. Fauci recently testified in the Senate, President Trump took the virus seriously from the beginning, acted quickly and saved lives,” Murtaugh said.

Trump took to Twitter on Sunday to add that certain governors have told him the federal government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic has been “phenomenal.”

Last month, Trump admitted to downplaying the threat of COVID-19 early on for fear of causing panic following the release of taped interviews with journalist Bob Woodward. In February, Trump told Woodward that COVID-19 “is deadly stuff” and could be as much as five times deadlier than the flu while publicly suggesting that the deadly virus would “disappear.”

>> Trump admitted to downplaying COVID-19 threat in taped interviews with Bob Woodward

The United States leads the world with the most coronavirus cases and the highest death toll. Since the start of the pandemic, officials have confirmed more than 7.7 million infections and reported more than 214,000 deaths nationwide, according to numbers compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

As of Monday, more than 37.5 million COVID-19 cases have been reported worldwide and more than 1 million people have died of the viral infection, according to Johns Hopkins.