Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top infectious disease expert in the United States, told CNN Sunday that his comments were taken “out of context” in a campaign ad for President Donald Trump.
Fauci said the ad, released Saturday as Trump recovers from the coronavirus, was made without his consent.
"In my nearly five decades of public service, I have never publicly endorsed any political candidate. The comments attributed to me without my permission in the GOP campaign ad were taken out of context from a broad statement I made months ago about the efforts of federal public health officials," Fauci said in a statement to CNN.
The 30-second ad features what appears to be an edited clip of Fauci saying, “I can’t imagine that…anybody could be doing more,” after a narrator discusses the Trump administration’s efforts to fight the pandemic.
The quote appears to come from an interview with Fox News in March. During the interview, Fauci said at the time, "We've never had a threat like this. The coordinated response has been…there are a number of adjectives to describe it -- impressive, I think is one of them. We're talking about all hands on deck. I, as one of many people on a team, I'm not the only person.”
“Since the beginning that we even recognized what this was,” he continued, “I have been devoting almost full time on this. I'm down at the White House virtually every day with the task force. It's every single day. So, I can't imagine that under any circumstances that anybody could be doing more."
Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh responded to Fauci’s comments about the ad, telling CNN, "These are Dr. Fauci's own words. The video is from a nationally broadcast television interview in which Dr. Fauci was praising the work of the Trump Administration. The words spoken are accurate, and directly from Dr. Fauci's mouth."
And later Sunday, Trump tweeted that the words “are indeed Dr. Fauci’s.”
More than 214,640 Americans have died of the coronavirus in the United States, according to the latest data from the Johns Hopkins University’s Coronavirus Resource Center. It also notes that more than 7.7 million people in the U.S. are infected.
There was no immediate response to the ad controversy from the Biden campaign. Biden for his part, has been critical of the president’s handling of the pandemic. Biden recently told NBC News he would urge governors, mayors and county executives to use their power to require the wearing of masks in those jurisdictions. He has previously called for a national mask mandate.
Trump in the past has faced criticism for misleading information in ads and on social media. In May, Trump threatened action against social media platform Twitter after the site tagged a pair of his tweets with a fact-check warning. Twitter does not need any government licenses to operate as do radio or television stations.