- Dr. Anthony Fauci privately said that President Donald Trump's attention span is "like a minus number," according to Bob Woodward's new book.
- Fauci also told an associate that Trump's "sole purpose is to get reelected," Woodward reported.
- Trump has a rocky relationship with Fauci, the nation's top expert on infectious disease, because of their differing views on how to handle the coronavirus pandemic.
- Fauci disputed the quotes in Woodward's book and said he did not "recall" making those statements.
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Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, is astonished by President Donald Trump's tendency to hop from one topic to another during meetings and believes Trump has a very short attention span, according to veteran reporter Bob Woodward's new book, "Rage."
The book, a copy of which was obtained by Insider, is set to be released on September 15.
"His attention span is like a minus number," Fauci said privately of Trump, according to Woodward's book. Fauci also told others that Trump operates on a "separate channel," and the president has generally changed the subject when Fauci challenges him.
Woodward reported that the infectious disease expert told an associate that Trump's "sole purpose is to get reelected."
Fauci was also disappointed that Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law and senior adviser, behaved like a cheerleader for Trump "as if everything was great," Woodward wrote.
Fauci was initially a leading figure on Trump's coronavirus task force but became increasingly sidelined amid divisions with the president over how to handle the outbreak. Fauci has supported quarantines and economic lockdowns to slow the virus' spread, and has questioned Trump advisors who pushed for unproven remedies. Trump is reportedly jealous of his high approval ratings with the American public.
Though things between Fauci and Trump were frosty for months, their cold war went into overdrive in July, when The Washington Post reported that a White House official circulated talking points criticizing Fauci for his handling of the virus.
Trump has downplayed COVID-19 since the early days of the outbreak. A string of media reports over the past several months also painted a damning picture of Trump hampering the US's recovery by ignoring more than a dozen warnings about the pandemic from intelligence officials, cutting funding to public-health agencies, demonizing medical experts like Fauci, and spreading misinformation about the severity of the outbreak.
Trump told Woodward in March that he was deliberately downplaying the seriousness of COVID-19 to avoid causing panic, though in February he told the veteran journalist that the virus was deadlier than the worst flus. Fauci on Wednesday defended Trump, stating he never heard the president distort the facts on the virus. He also disputed the quotes in Woodward's book during an interview with Fox News' John Roberts.
"I didn't get any sense that he was distorting anything. I mean in my discussions with him, they were always straightforward about the concerns that we had," Fauci told Roberts.
He also told Roberts he did not "recall" what he's cited as stating by Woodward in the book.
"I don't recall that at all," Fauci said. "So I mean ... according to what I saw in the newspapers, it says 'and others have said that.' So you know, I don't really want to get involved in the kind of stuff that is very distracting to the kind of things that I'm trying to do and that we're all trying to do with this outbreak."