Watch: Megyn Kelly Presses Trump on His Working Relationship With Fauci: ‘You Made Him a Star’
Surprising many, in recent weeks former President Donald Trump declined to participate in the GOP debates but consented to an interview with SiriusXM talk show host Megyn Kelly.
Kelly and Trump have had a high-profile tumultuous professional relationship over the years. Though a conservative, Kelly blasted Trump during a 2015 presidential debate over his reported demeaning comments about women.
During the Kelly-Trump interview, which aired on Tuesday, the former Fox News host grilled Trump over his working relationship with Dr. Anthony Fauci, whom many believe misled the nation regarding his role in, and the proper management of, the COVID-19 pandemic.
Kelly alleged that Trump elevated Fauci’s already notable leadership status though he was “loathed” by many Republicans.
“You made him a star,” Kelly asserted. “This is the criticism of you, that you made him the face of the White House coronavirus task force, that he was out at every presser, that he was running herd for the administration on COVID, and that you actually gave him a presidential Commendation before [you] left office.”
After her charges, Kelly asked Trump if he wished he could have a “do-over” regarding Fauci.
Trump asserted that Fauci was “respected” in the medical field and held key oversight positions before he took office and therefore it was appropriate that he looked to him for guidance.
Trump pointed out that he blocked Fauci’s plan to “let everyone come in from China,” and that most of the damage that Fauci caused occurred during Joe Biden’s term as president.
Touting his leadership, Trump asserted that he worked to reign Fauci in, recognized early on that Fauci was losing the respect of his peers and, as a “federalist,” allowed governors to run their states regarding lockdowns, closures and mandates.
The Daily Caller included an excerpt from the interview in their report:
Trump said: “I allowed the governors to do that. I also allowed Democrat governors to do that. But, I don’t think any of them, none of them did it.”
Kelly asked if, in retrospect, Trump wished he had taken a more aggressive stance against Fauci.
“Wouldn’t you like to go back and try to clip his wings?” she asked. “This guy was pushing mask mandates on us. He wanted the most extreme measure at every turn.”
Trump deftly shifted the spotlight to GOP rival Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, noting that he too praised Fauci and advocated vaccinations. “He shut down Florida for a month in 2020,” Trump added.
“There are states that didn’t shut down at all,” Trump noted, apparently inferring that Florida made an unwise decision.
“I gave him the right to keep it open if he wanted to,” Trump asserted. “I let the governors make the determination as to whether or not to close it down.”
Kelly then asked Trump about “Operation Warp Speed.” Kelly recently claimed that the rush to approve vaccines contributed to many, including herself, experiencing harmful side effects.
In addition, Kelly noted that Trump advocated a mask mandate at the White House and again asked if he wished he would “like a do-over” on these issues.
Trump responded by noting he served as president on the very front end of the pandemic and at the time, “nobody knew” the best way to approach COVID.
“Nobody really understands it even now, fully. But nobody knew what COVID was.”
Trump asserted he followed what he believed was the best advice available and though he pushed for a vaccine breakthrough by providing funding and minimizing bureaucratic “red tape,” he did not advocate cutting corners or shortcutting standard safety protocols.
The former president also noted that during his tenure as president, vaccines were not mandated. “I didn’t demand anybody take it,” Trump said.
Fauci is widely viewed as the villain in the COVID story. His repeated assertions to Congress regarding the origins of COVID and his unusual financial dealings regarding the funding of research and royalties related to the vaccine along with his management of the pandemic have led most to believe Fauci is guilty of criminal activity.
A January poll showed that a majority of Americans wanted Fauci investigated for his “inconsistent testimony” about his research prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.