President Donald Trump's jealousy and anger toward Dr. Anthony Fauci boiled over into public view, according to a White House correspondent.
Associated Press correspondent Jonathan Lemire said the president has privately been seething about his public health adviser's positive approval ratings, and he was obviously angry that Fauci delivered bad news about the coronavirus pandemic during his testimony to Congress this week.
"That's the real tension right now we're seeing within the White House and the broader administration," Lemire said. "What happened with the president's comments yesterday sort of boiled to the surface private frustrations he and his inner circle have had now for some weeks, according to our reporting, about Dr. Fauci."
Trump resents the physician's popularity and public credibility, Lemire said.
"The president has long been a little leery of the media attention and positive headlines Fauci has garnered," he said. "We know one of the fastest ways to get on the wrong side of the president is to get more media attention than him -- ask Steve Bannon about that, even Jared Kushner at times. In this case, it is Dr. Fauci. More than that, they feel, fairly or not, Dr. Fauci sometimes moderates his answers depending on the venue. He sometimes a little more sticks to what the president wants to say when he's giving an interview with conservative media, and then less so with other networks."
Lemire said the president's anger spilled over into plain sight Wednesday when he met with reporters.
"Now I think Dr. Fauci's defenders, and there are many, will say he's not playing politics at all, that he is just sticking to the guidelines," Lemire said. "That's what we heard in his Senate testimony the other day. He rankled the president, you could see it in his body language, you could hear it in his voice, according to our reporting, he was angry the night before, after Fauci's testimony, suggesting it was undercutting his arguments, and his push to get Americans back to work."
"He is trying to lead by example today," Lemire added. "He is going to Pennsylvania, a key battleground state. He'll be touring a mask factory there, paying tribute to the workers there. It is his second trip after one to Arizona last week, you know, sort of saying, 'Look, the White House is getting back to normal, so should you.' Though, we, of course, have COVID infections in the West Wing itself."