US President Donald Trump said that he will allow Anthony Fauci, a key member of the White House coronavirus response team, to testify before the Republican-controlled Senate next week, but that the expert will be barred from appearing in the House, where the Democrats hold a majority.
“The House is a setup. The House is a bunch of Trump haters,” the president said in response to a reporter’s question as he departed from the White House South Lawn to visit a Honeywell factory in Arizona on Tuesday, Xinhua news agency reported.
“But Dr. Fauci will be testifying in front of the Senate, and he looks forward to doing that,” Trump added, referring to the 79-year-old director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
Trump also lashed out at a House oversight committee set up to scrutinize the administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, saying the panel includes some of his fiercest critics, such as congresswomen Maxine Waters of California and Carolyn Maloney of New York. “And it’s just a setup,” Trump said.
Regarded by Americans as a reliable source of information during the ongoing pandemic, Fauci is slated to appear before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee for a coronavirus-related hearing on May 12.
The White House previously rejected a request from a House Appropriations subcommittee for Fauci to testify.
“While the Trump Administration continues its whole-of-government response to COVID-19, including safely opening up America again and expediting vaccine development, it is counter-productive to have the very individuals involved in those efforts appearing at Congressional hearings,” White House deputy press secretary Judd Deere said in a statement Friday.
The White House on Monday issued guidance prohibiting the members of its coronavirus task force from participating in congressional hearings in May, unless White House chief of staff Mark Meadows grants permission.
The Hill cited a senior administration official as saying that the team now “need everybody manning their stations and prioritizing coronavirus response work.”