The Trump administration blocked a request for Anthony Fauci to testify before a House subcommittee investigating the coronavirus outbreak and response.
When asked why the nation's top infectious-disease expert was barred from testifying, a White House spokesperson told Insider that it was "counter-productive" to have people involved in the administration's coronavirus response "appearing at Congressional hearings."
Fauci, who is on the White House coronavirus task force, has become one of the most trusted voices in the country amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The White House has barred the nation's top expert on infectious diseases from speaking with a House of Representatives panel investigating the coronavirus outbreak and response.
Trump administration officials rejected a request from the House Appropriations Committee for Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, to testify at a hearing scheduled for next week, Evan Hollander, a spokesman for the committee, told The Washington Post on Friday.
"While the Trump Administration continues its whole-of-government response to COVID-19, including safely opening up America again and expediting vaccine development, it is counter-productive to have the very individuals involved in those efforts appearing at Congressional hearings," White House spokesperson Judd Deere told Insider when asked why the administration denied the House subcommittee's request.
"We are committed to working with Congress to offer testimony at the appropriate time," Deere added.
In lieu of hearing from Fauci, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies will hear testimony from Thomas Frieden, who led the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention under the Obama administration.
Fauci has become one of the most trusted voices in the country amid the coronavirus pandemic. Recent Insider polling showed that Americans trust Fauci for information on the virus far more than President Donald Trump, who has been widely criticized over his handling of the pandemic.
Though the White House said it would be "counter-productive" for Fauci to testify before the House panel next week, the infectious-disease expert is poised to appear at a Senate hearing on coronavirus testing the following week, a senior administration official told The Post on the condition of anonymity.
"It's not muzzling, it's not blocking, it's simply trying to ensure we're able to balance the need for oversight, the legitimate need for oversight, with their responsibilities to handle COVID-19 work at their respective agencies and departments," the official said.