Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has become the face of the White House's scientific and medical response to the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak, frequently appearing alongside President Donald Trump during task force news conferences.
But he and the president have not always agreed on the facts surrounding the outbreak.
For example, after Trump played up a drug used to treat malaria as a potential "game-changer" in the fight against coronavirus, Fauci said the only evidence that the drug could be helpful was "anecdotal." Fauci has also contradicted Trump on the timetable for a vaccine and the severity of the outbreak.
In an interview with Science magazine, Fauci said that he and Trump don't disagree on substantive issues.
"Even though we disagree on some things, he listens. He goes his own way. He has his own style," Fauci said. "But on substantive issues, he does listen to what I say."
But he said during news conferences, the president says things "in a way that I would not express it, because it could lead to some misunderstanding about what the facts are about a given subject."
When asked about Trump's claim that China could have told the world about the coronavirus three or four months earlier, Fauci grew defensive.
"What do you want me to do? I mean, seriously Jon, let’s get real, what do you want me to do?" he asked Science staff writer Jon Cohen.
"The way it happened is that after he made that statement, I told the appropriate people, it doesn't comport, because two or three months earlier would have been September," Fauci explained. Though China has been criticized for a lack of transparency and not disclosing information sooner, the first known case of the disease was in early December.
"The next time they sit down with him and talk about what he’s going to say, they will say, by the way, Mr. President, be careful about this and don't say that," Fauci continued. "But I can't jump in front of the microphone and push him down. OK, he said it. Let's try and get it corrected for the next time."
He said the task force typically meets for about an hour and a half before the news conferences to discuss the points they want to highlight and "somebody writes a speech."
"Then he gets up and ad-libs on his speech. And then we're up there to try and answer questions," Fauci said.
Fauci said he would never refer to the coronavirus as the "Chinese virus," as Trump began to do after the confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. began to spike.
Another frustration has centered on getting the administration's task force to practice its own social-distancing recommendations and stopping the news conferences in the crowded White House briefing room.
"We should be physically separating a bit more on those press conferences," Fauci said. "I keep saying, 'Is there any way we can get a virtual press conference?' Thus far, no. But when you're dealing with the White House, sometimes you have to say things 1,2,3,4 times, and then it happens. So I'm going to keep pushing."
Fauci was also asked about an image of him that went viral last week in which he covered his face during a news conference when Trump described the State Department as the "deep State Department," a reference to the president's theory that longtime civil servants are trying to undermine him.
"No comment," Fauci said.