WASHINGTON (AP) – Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top U.S. infectious disease official, said Thursday he feels safe despite reports he’s received online threats and has had uncomfortable personal encounters with admirers that prompted the Trump administration to assign him a security detail.
Fauci, a key member of the White House coronavirus task force who appears almost daily on televised briefings and news shows, says there are things about his job that are “sometimes disturbing.”
But Fauci, a plain-speaking expert on the coronavirus who hasn’t shied away from publicly correcting President Donald Trump’s erroneous statements about the virus, told NBC’s â€œTodayâ€ that he just focuses on the job he has chosen and puts “all of that stuff aside.”
The Washington Post first reported Fauci’s enhanced security, citing people with knowledge of the situation at the Health and Human Services and Justice departments. It said Alex Azar, HHS secretary, grew concerned about Fauci’s safety as his profile has risen. Fauci is said to have received threats online and been approached by admirers.
Asked Thursday if he felt safe, the 79-year-old Fauci told NBC, “You know, I do. … I’ve chosen this life and I mean I know what it is. There are things about it that are sometimes disturbing but you just focus on the job you have to do and just put all of that stuff aside and try as best as possible not to pay attention to it.”
Reporters asked Fauci about his security detail on Wednesday at the White House COVID-19 briefing. â€œAnything that has to do with security detail, I’d have to have you refer that question to the inspector general of HHS,” he said.
Trump then said Fauci doesn’t need security. â€œEverybody loves him. Besides, they’d be in big trouble if they ever attacked,â€ Trump said.