A reporter asked Graham what he thought of reports of President Donald Trump trying to discredit Fauci.
Graham acknowledged his respect for Fauci and suggested he is an integral part of the solution to the coronavirus pandemic.
“Well here’s what I would say about Dr. Fauci, he’s been around a long time. He’s one of the smartest people I know. Has he been right all the time? No,” Graham said.
He added, “We don’t have a Dr. Fauci problem, we need to be focusing on doing things that get us where we need to go. So I have all the respect in the world for Dr. Fauci. I think any effort to undermine him is not going to be productive, quite frankly.”
Graham went on to urge the federal government to focus on a phase four response to the pandemic.
According to Graham, phase four should look like reshaping unemployment benefits, focusing on testing, and providing additional assistance to hospitals.
“Getting in a contest with Dr. Fauci about whether he was right or wrong doesn’t move the ball forward because here’s where we are as a nation, the infection rate is going up, we shut the whole country down,” Graham said.
He added, “It’s time to reopen up smartly. It’s time to go back to school, and we’re going to deal with the reality that we’re not as prepared as we need to be but we are moving in the right direction.”
During a Fox News phone interview Thursday evening, Trump said Fauci “is a nice man but he’s made a lot of mistakes,” as IJR previously reported.
Shortly thereafter, Trump was asked if he still values Fauci’s advice amid rumors of a strained relationship.
Trump declared he has a “very good relationship” with Fauci, as IJR previously reported.