President Donald Trump is slated to return to the political rally circuit in Tulsa, Oklahoma on Saturday, which came against the recommendations of numerous health officials, all citing coronavirus. According to NBC News, both Dr. Deborah Birx and Dr. Anthony Fauci, members of Trump's own coronavirus task force, advised the president to cancel the rally entirely, citing a spike in cases in the state.
Carol Lee, who co-authored the report, appeared on MSNBC's Deadline: White House on Friday, who revealed that sources said their advice was out concern for "these large scale gatherings indoors because of the health risks," Lee said, via Mediaite. "A White House official told us that they did discuss this with members of the task force and sought their input, but point to the fact that Oklahoma is in phase three of reopening and the task force had a hand in writing those the phase three guidelines, and [they] feel comfortable with where they are at." She went on to explain that "this is part of a larger pattern that we have seen since the task force's inception and as the pandemic continued and the president started to push back on the closing up of the country."
Lee added that "the tension has been there where you have members of the task force saying that they recommend one thing and the White House and the president saying that that is not exactly the direction that they want, and that is what is happening with the rallies and happened behind the scenes." As a result, neither Fauci nor Brix will appear as part of the rally.
"They will essentially use the White House press secretary as the translator of whatever those folks are — the experts are saying behind the scenes and that she can say — give their message once it goes through obviously the White House's preferred filter from the White House podium," Lee said. "But the big headline here is that these experts have advised behind the scenes that something like what the president is planning to do tomorrow is not recommended."
On June 1, Fauci also revealed he hadn't met with Trump for weeks, which was an abrupt departure from their prior schedule of near-daily meetups and subsequent press briefings. While most of Trump's public claims about the rise in confirmed cases have been refuted by scientific evidence, rally attendees are being asked to sign a waiver preventing a lawsuit should they be infected with COVID-19.