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Newly minted White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany responded Saturday to allegations from congressional Democrats and their media allies that the Trump administration is “blocking” Dr. Anthony Fauci from testifying before Congress.
Speaking on Fox News, she pointed out that Democrats had asked the White House to have Fauci testify specifically before a House Appropriations Subcommittee pertaining to funding matters at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Given that Fauci’s scientific expertise as the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which is a subdivision of the HHS’s National Institutes of Health, has nothing to do with money, the request made no sense.
But when the White House asked for more clarification, Democrats refused to respond.
Listen to her full response below, via FNC’s “America’s Newsroom HQ” (disable your adblocker if the video doesn’t appear):
“We want to ensure that our experts, that it’s the best use of their time at that moment, it doesn’t detract from their day job, but beyond that, ensuring that the right subject matter expert is there at for the right testimony,” she said to FNC’s Eric Shawn.
“So for instance in this case, [Rep. Nita Lowey] actually made several calls to Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, who I just spoke with, and the chief of staff repeatedly asked what the subject matter of the hearing would be.”
New York Rep. Nita Lowey, a Democrat, is the chair of the House Appropriations Committee, which is tasked with regulating the spending of federal money.
“Besides giving vague responses, she never gave too much detail as to what the actual subject matter would be other than it being a subcommittee for HHS funding, which would have been a rather odd fit for Dr. Fauci, being that he’s at NIH, which is a subdivision of Secretary Alex Azar’s HHS,” McEnany added.
“So when we pressed for details as to why why Dr. Fauci in particular was the right person for this testimony at this hearing, those details were never provided. In fact, the chief of staff gave his email address and never received a response from the chairman.”
The press secretary’s response came hours after left-wing activists, some of them members of the mainstream establishment media, began suggesting the Trump administration was “blocking” the request so as to hide something.
Trump is blocking Dr. Fauci from testifying in probe examining the administration’s response to the pandemic.
What is Trump hiding?!
— Alyssa Milano (@Alyssa_Milano) May 1, 2020
An unconstitutional #obstruction of Congress during an emergency. Thank Senators who voted to give #Trump a pass on #impeachment for…say it with me….””: “White House blocking Fauci from testifying before Congress about coronavirus response” https://t.co/2zogjtkpwK
— Maya Wiley (@mayawiley) May 1, 2020
— Frank Figliuzzi (@FrankFigliuzzi1) May 1, 2020
Donnie Five Chins knows Fauci will speak the truth; Trump has blood on his hands. Not a lot of blood, cause they’re tiny little stubby hands, but blood nonetheless. https://t.co/stUUaWS8Bf
— Chip Franklin (@chipfranklin) May 2, 2020
“This is a pathetic, transparent attempt to keep a lid on Trump’s incompetence.” https://t.co/nLhZlbmycV
— HuffPost Politics (@HuffPostPol) May 2, 2020
So the White House is blocking Fauci from testifying in front of the House? Calling it “counterproductive” since he’s busy working on the pandemic? The jokes write themselves, but there’s nothing funny about this.
— Dan Rather (@DanRather) May 2, 2020
The “blocking” language came from a statement by House Democrats.
“The Appropriations Committee sought Dr. Anthony Fauci as a witness at next week’s Labor-HHS-Education Subcommittee hearing on COVID-19 response,” House Appropriations Committee spokesman Evan Hollander reportedly said Friday. “We have been informed by an administration official that the White House has blocked Dr. Fauci from testifying.”
McEnany disagrees with the use of this politically charged term, especially given as Dr. Fauci has been approved to testify before the Senate on May 12th.
“Well, he is testifying of course in about a week and a half in front of the Senate, so he will be asked questions from senators in both parties, so he will be out there,” she said to reporters Saturday. “So this notion that the White House is blocking Dr. Fauci just doesn’t bare in truth.”
He’s specifically set to testify before the general purpose Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.
Listen to the press secretary’s remarks below:
— The Hill (@thehill) May 2, 2020
.@PressSec accuses House Approp Chair @NitaLowey of staging a “publicity stunt” by asking for testimony from Dr. Anthony Fauci at a hearing on HHS funding. McEnany says Lowey failed to explain request to WH Chief of Staff @MarkMeadows, who approved Fauci for a Senate hearing. pic.twitter.com/qI573yxSgV
— Mark Knoller (@markknoller) May 2, 2020
Congressional Democrats have predictably already dismissed her points as “partisan politics.”
“The White House’s decision to allow Dr. Fauci to testify in the Republican-controlled Senate but not before the House Appropriations Committee is letting politics overtake public health,” they said in a joint statement Saturday.
“There is no distinction between our two co-equal legislative bodies. The COVID-19 pandemic should not and cannot become a partisan issue – there are too many lives at risk. We are all Americans first. But the White House’s partisan politics are clearly at play in this decision during our nation’s most challenging public health and economic crisis, and that is both alarming and offensive to the work the American people have elected us to do.”
Yet as Shawn noted during McEnany’s appearance on FNC, Democrats have already swapped Fauci out with Dr. Tom Frieden, a former Obama era Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director.
“That’s their decision, but they were not acting in good faith with the administration here,” the press secretary said in response. “Beyond that, I’d also note where the Senate gave us their plans to social distance and how to do this safely.”
“The House has yet to do that. So they’re not acting in good faith. And this really was a publicity stunt on the part of Democrats saying that the White House blocked Dr. Fauci because that wasn’t the case.”
It’s almost as if the Democrats are, as the president argued in a tweet Saturday, “looking for trouble.”
The Democrats are just, as always, looking for trouble. They do nothing constructive, even in times of crisis. They don’t want to blame their cash cow, China, for the plague. China is blaming Europe. Dr. Fauci will be testifying before the Senate very soon! #DONOTHINGDEMOCRATS https://t.co/fgHuYeiOQY
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 2, 2020