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EXCLUSIVE — Dr. Anthony Fauci received a call from CNN’s Jim Acosta that created an “awkward moment” during a key COVID meeting in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, according to former White House senior advisor Jared Kushner.
In an excerpt from his new book, “Breaking History: A White House memoir,” that has been obtained by Fox News Digital, Kushner recalled an incident in 2020 when Fauci was interrupted by a call from CNN’s then-chief White House correspondent.
“Early in the pandemic, Fauci was sitting in my office when his phone rang. We both glanced down and saw the caller’s name: Jim Acosta, the president’s chief antagonist on the generally hostile news network CNN. Neither of us acknowledged the awkward moment, but it stuck in my mind,” Kushner wrote.
Former White House senior advisor Jared Kushner’s new book, “Breaking History: A White House memoir,” hits stores on August 23.
While journalists call newsmakers on a frequent basis as part of their job, the staunchly anti-Trump reporter calling Fauci directly on his cell was enough to raise Kushner’s eyebrows.
The former White House senior advisor’s reference to Acosta being “the president’s chief antagonist” came after Acosta became notorious for shouting questions, delivering on-air liberal editorials and bickering with Trump and other members of the administration. Trump famously sparred with Acosta on multiple occasions, raising his profile by calling him “fake news.”
While Acosta was CNN’s chief White House reporter during the Trump era, CNN removed him from the beat upon President Biden taking office. When stationed in the White House, Acosta regularly cited anonymous sources to paint Trump in a negative light. For example, on Aug. 5, 2020, he tweeted, “A source familiar with Trump’s Tuesday Oval Office meeting with his coronavirus task force said the president is still not demonstrating that he has a firm grasp of the severity of the pandemic in the US.”
Acosta now hosts a weekend program on CNN and is the network’s “domestic correspondent,” where he continues to make no secret of his left-wing politics. For several months, Acosta pinned a tweet linking to his own segment calling Trump an “insult to clowns.”
CNN’s Jim Acosta was once temporarily banned from the White House after he engaged in a contentious back-and-forth with President Trump during a 2018 press conference that included briefly contacting a female White House aide who was attempting to take the microphone. ((REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst) )
In June, Acosta was singled out by Axios as someone who conservatives consider the “face of the network’s liberal shift” as CNN chairman and CEO Chris Licht purportedly attempts to restore the organization to a nonpartisan approach to news. Licht is evaluating the operations of the entire network in the early months of his tenure.
Many conservatives have grown tired of the polarizing Fauci, who has been director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) since 1984 and emerged as the face of the government’s policies related to COVID. He has become a politically divisive figure, receiving widely laudatory coverage in the press and from the left, while taking heat from the right over his mask and lockdown guidance.
Kushner’s memoir also dished on an April 2020 exchange in which Fauci pushed back on Trump’s desire to reopen the country and end COVID lockdowns.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, President Biden’s chief medical adviser, has said he will step down from his government work by 2025. ((AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File) )
“On April 15, Trump called me to the Oval Office and said that he wanted to end the COVID-19 lockdown and reopen the economy the following day. While he believed that the federal guidance to slow the spread was justified to flatten the curve and build up lifesaving supplies, it was supposed to be temporary, and he believed that the doctors wanted it to go on indefinitely… in a meeting with the president the next day, April 16, Fauci strongly advised against a full reopening. Continued lockdowns would save lives, he argued, and we should keep them as long as possible,” Kushner wrote, noting Fauci then declared he only “does medical advice” and the final decision was up to the president.
“Fauci was a shrewd politician and smooth communicator. Nobody rises to the top of a bureaucracy like the National Institutes of Health and survives six presidential administrations over three-and-a-half decades without knowing how to self-promote, outmaneuver, and curry favor with the powerful,” Kushner wrote.
Fauci said this month he will retire by the end of President Biden’s term.
“Breaking History: A White House memoir” hits stores on August 23.
Fox News’ Danielle Wallace contributed to this report.
Brian Flood is a media reporter for Fox News Digital. Story tips can be sent to email@example.com and on Twitter: @briansflood.