Fauci To Have 1st 'Substantive Discussions' With Biden Transition Officials

Thursday, December 3rd 2020, 10:05 am
By: CBS News

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's leading infectious diseases expert, told CBS News that he will meet with members of President-elect Joe Biden's transition team on Thursday to discuss the incoming administration's response to the coronavirus pandemic. Fauci spoke to CBS News chief Washington correspondent Major Garrett for this week's episode of "The Takeout" podcast, which will become available later on Thursday.

Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), said that he had spoken to Mr. Biden's incoming chief of staff Ron Klain a few times already, although he said these conversations were not "substantive." 

He added that he expected to have a substantive conversation on Thursday, as he will be speaking with Mr. Biden's "landing team," officials who will discuss the new administration's priorities to insure a smooth transition and allow the president-elect to begin working on addressing the pandemic as soon as he takes office.

"I'm going to be meeting with them today, by Zoom, by virtually. So today will be the first day where there will be substantive discussions about the transition between me and the Biden team," Fauci said. "I'm very pleased that today we're having the first discussion about a number of things, vaccinations and things like that."

Fauci, who became the director of the NIAID in 1984, said that the presidential transition was incredibly important to ensure that the incoming administration can take the reins on day one.

"Having served six administrations, I've been through five transitions, and I know that transitions are really important if you want to get a smooth handing over of the responsibility," Fauci said.

The formal transition process was delayed by several weeks, as the head of the agency who oversees the transfer of power waited until the end of November to sign a letter releasing federal funds to aid in the transition and allowing members of the Biden transition team to meet with current agency officials. Mr. Biden argued that delaying the process costed lives, because it shortened the period of time his team has to work with officials like Fauci.

Fauci said that he would have liked the process to begin sooner, but did not go so far as to say that the truncated transition process would result in more deaths from the virus.

"I would have liked to have seen us getting involved with the team as early as we possibly can because we want the smooth transition to occur," Fauci said. "Everyone believes that a smooth transition is certainly better than no transition."

Fauci said that he has not yet spoken with the president-elect, but he expects to do so in the near future. As a career official, Fauci will remain in his position as director of NIAID, and said that he expected Mr. Biden would want him to continue advising the administration on how to address the coronavirus pandemic.

"I am almost certain that he's going to want me to do that, because that's what I do," Fauci said.