• The Washington Post reported on Sunday that the White House is taking active steps to undermine and freeze Fauci out, including limiting his media appearances and undercutting confidence in his work.
  • A national poll conducted by The New York Times and Siena College in mid-June found 76% of Americans trust Fauci for "accurate information" about the COVID-19 pandemic compared to 26% who trust Trump.
  • On average, 39% of Americans approve of Trump's handling of the pandemic on average compared to 57% who disapprove in FiveThirtyEight's tracker of polls gauging support for his handling on the pandemic.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories .

President Donald Trump is reportedly spooked by Dr. Anthony Fauci's overwhelmingly high approval numbers compared to his own poor ratings on the COVID-19 pandemic, the Washington Post reported on Sunday.

On Sunday, the Washington Post and New York Times reported that the White House is now taking more active and overt steps to undermine Fauci's messaging, including restricting his media appearances and even circulating an opposition-research style document laying out various "mistakes" they said Fauci made at the beginning of the pandemic.

At a Monday afternoon press briefing, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany denied that the Trump administration had sent out "opposition research" to reporters. "Fauci and the president have a good working relationship," she said.

The Post, however, reported that in addition to Fauci and Trump not speaking at all since early June, Trump is "galled" by Fauci's high approval ratings.

A national poll conducted by The New York Times and Siena College in mid-June found that a full 76% of Americans trust Fauci for "accurate information" about the COVID-19 pandemic compared to just 26% who trust Trump.

Fauci, 79, is the Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious diseases at the National Institutes of Health within the National Institute of Health and a member of the White House coronavirus task force.

He's served in the federal government for over 50 years and has worked under six presidents on infectious disease research, including leading the charge on the US' response to the AIDS crisis in the 1980s.

Throughout the pandemic, Fauci has received high marks from Americans for his clear and blunt scientific assessments of the COVID-19 pandemic that have often directly contradicted Trump's own messaging, which has at times downplayed the severity of the virus and projected optimism.

Around the same time that The Times/Siena poll was conducted, a Fox News poll conducted from June 13-16 found that voters gave Fauci high approval ratings, with 72% of all Americans and 65% of Republicans approving of Fauci's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic compared to only 44% of Americans who approve of Trump's handling of the crisis.

Trump is underwater among Americans for his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to FiveThirtyEight's aggregated tracker of polls gauging Trump's approval on coronavirus, 39% of Americans approve of Trump's handling of the pandemic on average compared to 57% who disapprove.

As FiveThirtyEight's tracker shows, Americans' approval of Trump's handling of the crisis has only worsened over the course of the pandemic.

In ABC News and Ipsos' polling, for example, Trump had a net positive approval rating in the March 18-19 survey, with 55% approving and 43% disapproving. In the July 8-9 version of the poll , however, a full 67% of Americans disapprove of Trump's handling of the pandemic while just 33% approve.

A series of Insider polls conducted with SurveyMonkey in mid-March, mid-April, and late-April asked respondents to rate a number of key public figures on a scale of 1 to 5 based on how trustworthy they are for leadership and accurate information on the coronavirus.

All three surveys found that Americans gave Fauci and Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York the highest ratings for their handling of COVID-19 and ranked President Donald Trump and senior White House advisor Jared Kushner at the bottom.

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