Paul Alexander, a Trump appointee at the Department of Health and Human Services, has been trying to prevent Anthony Fauci from talking about children wearing masks and getting COVID-19 tests, according to emails obtained by Politico.
Emails that Alexander sent to staff at the National Institutes of Health show that he has been trying to influence what Fauci should say during media interviews. His emails "often contradict mainstream science while promoting political positions taken by the Trump administration," Politico reported.
"Can you ensure Dr. Fauci indicates masks are for the teachers in schools. Not for children," Alexander wrote in one such email. "There is no data, none, zero, across the entire world, that shows children especially young children, spread this virus to other children, or to adults or to their teachers. None. And if it did occur, the risk is essentially zero."
In another email, Alexander criticized the NIH’s commitment to randomized controlled trial -- considered the gold standard of scientific research.
Michael Caputo, the assistant secretary for public affairs at HHS, told Politico that Alexander is just sharing his opinions.
"Dr. Alexander advises me on pandemic policy and he has been encouraged to share his opinions with other scientists," Caputo said. "Like all scientists, his advice is heard and taken or rejected by his peers. I hired Dr. Alexander for his expertise and not to simply resonate others’ opinions."
Fauci told Politico that he had not seen the emails. "No one tells me what I can say and cannot say. I speak on scientific evidence," he remarked.
The infectious disease expert also denied the report during a Fox News interview. "Anyone who knows me, and you do, that I would never be muzzled about anything when it comes to science, evidence, and the facts," Fauci said.
But the White House has faced accusations for months that they're attempting to silence Fauci. In May, the White House blocked him from appearing at a House subcommittee investigating the coronavirus outbreak.