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Fauci, who is widely trusted by the public after a lengthy career servingunder six presidents from both parties, said Meadows was being candid in the interview last weekend where he told Tapper it was not possible to control the virus. Fauci has adopted the polar opposite strategy by repeatedly telling Americans that they can change the trajectory of the virus and save lives if they adhere to mask use, social distancing protocols and other safety precautions.

“I tip my hat to him for admitting the strategy,” Fauci told the Post of Meadows’ admission to Tapper. “He is straightforward in telling you what’s on his mind. I commend him for that.”

Fauci did not mince words describing what he views as the untoward influence of Dr. Scott Atlas, a controversial figure who has become the President’s de facto Covid adviser. Atlas, a White House coronavirus task force member who took on more prominence as Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx receded from public view at the White House, has misrepresented the effectiveness of masks and discouraged testing of asymptomatic people, even though most medical experts believe it is a critical element of stopping the spread of the virus.

“I have real problems with that guy,” the Washington Post quoted Fauci as saying about Atlas. “He’s a smart guy who’s talking about things that I believe he doesn’t have any real insight or knowledge or experience in. He keeps talking about things that when you dissect it out and parse it out, it doesn’t make any sense.”

Fauci and Birx, the coronavirus response coordinator for the White House task force, were fixtures at the White House in the early days of the pandemic, often appearing alongside Trump at White House briefings to detail the administration’s efforts to fight the virus. But Trump grew increasingly frustrated with Fauci’s media appearances and what he viewed as the doctor’s negative tone about the trajectory of the virus. (Fauci told the Washington Post he was choosing his words carefully so as not to be prohibited from doing future interviews.)