Fauci and top health officials to testify on Trump’s coronavirus response

"If we skip the checkpoints in the guidelines of: & # 39; Open America Again & # 39 ;, we risk the risk of multiple outbreaks across the country," Fauci said in an email to the Times, citing the federal government's plan for states to re-open. "This will not only result in unnecessary suffering and death, but will actually put us back on our quest to get back to normal."

Fauci's scheduled testimony will provide a hearing where senators will finally have a chance Tuesday to discuss the effectiveness of the Trump administration's handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, in what may be one of the only public hearings with members of the White House coronavirus workforce.

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The hearing will be the Democrats' first opportunity since March to interview leading medical experts – including Fauci and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield – about the Trump administration's response.

"The fact is that President (Donald) Trump has been more focused on fighting the truth than fighting this virus – and unfortunately, Americans have paid the price," Washington Senator Patty Murray, Senate Health Democrat, Education, Labor – and the Pension Committee, plan to say it Tuesday, according to excerpts from her opening statement.

"Since this committee last heard from these witnesses on March 3, we have seen over 900 deaths in my home state of Washington, over 80,000 deaths nationally, and the number continues to rise," Murray plans. "Still, President Trump is trying to ignore the facts and ignore the experts who have been clear that we are nowhere near where we need to be to open again safely."

The hearing – where committee leaders and all four government witnesses will be shown remotely via video conference – comes as states across the country have begun to take action to reset business closures and home-to-home orders that were put in place two months ago to try to curb the coronavirus infection rate , even though the outbreak is far from over.

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Three of the witnesses and the committee's leader – for a hearing titled "Covid-19: Safely Get Back to Work and School" – appear externally because they are self-isolating or even quarantined after contacting people who tested positive for coronavirus.

The hearing is likely to further illustrate the divide in the country between Republicans and Democrats over their views on the pandemic, how the administration has handled the crisis and the best way forward amid warnings from public health experts that positive cases may grow if stay-home orders are rolled back too quickly.

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The committee's leader Lamar Alexander and other Republicans in the panel look at Tuesday's hearing as a showcase for what the administration has been working on, and they hope the reputation of scientists with whom Fauci will give credibility to the work is happening, according to a source familiar with their thinking.

Fauci has become one of the Trump administration's leading – and most credible – votes during the pandemic as a public career as a leading national institute for allergies and infectious diseases, which has been willing to break with Trump on issues such as testing and resetting home-at-home orders.

Democrats are hopeful that Fauci will give the public his honest opinion Tuesday – even if it means criticizing the president.

"This will be one of the first opportunities for Dr. Fauci to tell the American people the unadulterated truth without the President slurping his shoulder," Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Monday.

"Dr. Fauci, let it tear," he added.

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Democrats are likely to question why experts' opinions are cast aside

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A wide range of questions are likely to be raised during the hearing Tuesday.

Murray plans to ask officials for reports The White House has disrupted recommendations from public health experts, the federal government's efforts to increase testing and how the administration plans ahead for how it will distribute a coronavirus vaccine, according to an aide. And Democrats are guaranteed to take up the whistleblower complaint from Dr. Rick Bright, the postponed director of the office involved in developing a coronavirus vaccine that he said was removed for taking caution against a Trump-favored treatment.
The federal agency says the removal of the vaccine commander may have been retribution

Senator Bill Cassidy, a Louisiana Republican on the committee, said his biggest concern is schools and the federal government's plan to get them back in the fall. "I haven't seen a plan for how to reopen schools. So that's my concern," Cassidy told CNN Monday.

And Senator Tim Kaine, a Virginia Democrat, said he plans to interview witnesses about why the United States has "done so much worse" than other states in dealing with the pandemic and "what does that mean for the next steps we need to take?"

"We have a president who tells the American public that they need to be warriors and get out in the midst of all danger when the nation's top health officials try to make the right decisions about their own health," Kaine said.

The hearing may be one of the Democrats' only chances to interrogate Fauci and other high-ranking officials after the White House said they would make limited exceptions to a policy that White House officials should spend their time fighting coronaviruses, and not witnesses before Congress.

Asked last week why he would not let Fauci testify before the House Appropriations Committee, Trump said: "Because the house is a set up. The house is a bunch of Trump haters."

Witnesses have prepared themselves externally

In addition to Fauci and Redfield, Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn and Adm. Brett Giroir, Assistant Secretary of Health at the Department of Health and Human Services, testified at Tuesday's hearing. Aides from the White House Legislative Office, as well as the HHS Legislative Office, work with the witnesses ahead of the hearing.

Giroir gave a presentation at the White House on Monday during Trump's press conference to showcase US coronavirus test features.

"No matter how you look at it, America is the world's leader in testing," he said. "No other country in the world comes close in terms of total numbers."

The White House is buzzing after employees test positive when a new mask mandate comes into force
All four witnesses will testify externally, and Alexander and Murray will also appear via videoconferencing. Hahn and Redfield are both self-insulating because of their contact with someone who tested positive for coronavirus, and Fauci has said he will observe a "modified quarantine" after what he described as "low-risk contact" with Katie Miller, Vice President Mike Pence's press secretary who tested positive last week.

A person familiar with the hearing preparation said that the White House and health and human services helpers get the four witnesses ready, do it externally – they don't hold advance collections, given that three of the four witnesses are in some form of isolation.

Alexander is in quarantine for 14 days after an office employee tested positive for coronavirus. Alexander worked with his staff Monday to ensure that he is comfortable with the remote technology committee will use on Tuesday.

Alexander said in a statement Sunday that he spoke with Chief of Staff Mark Meadows about the White House granting exceptions for Tuesday's consultation to the administration's policy that officials should not testify externally.

CNN's Manu Raju, Sarah Westwood and Ali Zaslav contributed to this report.

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