Fact Check: Trump Supposedly Awarded Dr. Anthony Fauci a Presidential Commendation. We Double-Checked To Confirm

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On the final full day of his administration, then-U.S. President Donald Trump awarded Dr. Anthony Fauci with a presidential commendation for his "exceptional efforts on Operation Warp Speed," the administration's project to develop a COVID-19 vaccine.


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Ahead of Dr. Anthony Fauci's June 3, 2024, appearance before the U.S, House Oversight Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic, former U.S. President Donald Trump suggested, in an interview with podcaster Tim Pool, that he would prosecute the scientist for lying to Congress.

In that same interview, Trump also stated that "Fauci wasn't a big player" in his administration, and that "Biden made him the king of everything." Fauci was the former longtime head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and was appointed to the White House Coronavirus Task Force launched by the Trump administration.

In response, journalists, politicians, and social media users skeptical of Trump's now rigid disavowal of Fauci began sharing the claim that, on his last full day in office, then-President Trump awarded the scientist with a presidential commendation:

The claim is true. On Jan. 19, 2021, according to an archived White House press release, Trump awarded presidential commendations to 52 individuals "in recognition of their exceptional efforts on Operation Warp Speed" — the federal project to develop COVID-19 vaccines. Fauci was among those on this list:

Today, President Donald J. Trump awarded Presidential Commendations to the below individuals in recognition of their exceptional efforts on Operation Warp Speed:

General Mark Milley

Secretary Alex Azar

Jared Kushner

Dr. Moncef Slaoui

General Gustave Perna

Dr. Deborah Birx

Dr. Anthony Fauci …

In a September 2023 interview on SiriusXM's "The Megyn Kelly Show," Kelly asked Trump why he awarded Fauci with a commendation. "I don't know who gave him the commendation," Trump responded. "I really don't know who gave him the commendation. Someone probably handed him a commendation."

As reported by CNN, two former Trump Administration officials pushed back on the claim that such a commendation would have been awarded without the president's approval:

"A commendation of this nature would require presidential sign-off. They go through staff secretary for approval and then the president would need to approve," Alyssa Farah Griffin, who was Trump's White House communications director before her resignation in late 2020, said in a text. …

Stephanie Grisham, who served as Trump's White House press secretary and communications director in 2019 and 2020 and then as first lady Melania Trump's chief of staff into 2021, said in a message: "In my experience nothing like that would ever go out w/o his knowing. Esp(ecially) if an announcement was released."

Regardless of his own personal recollection of his final days as president, there is, in fact, a record of Trump awarding a presidential commendation to Fauci on Jan. 19, 2021. As such, the claim is True.


"DeSantis Rips Trump for Claiming Not to Know Who Gave Fauci Presidential Commendation: 'Is This the Immaculate Commendation?' | CNN Politics." CNN, 14 Sept. 2023, https://www.cnn.com/2023/09/14/politics/desantis-trump-fauci-commendation-covid/index.html.

"Live Updates: Anthony Fauci Goes before House Covid-19 Panel over Coronavirus Origins." CNN, 3 June 2024, https://www.cnn.com/politics/live-news/anthony-fauci-covid-origins-hearing-06-03-24/index.html.

President Trump Awards Presidential Commendations to Operation Warp Speed Team – The White House. https://trumpwhitehouse.archives.gov/briefings-statements/president-trump-awards-presidential-commendations-operation-warp-speed-team/. Accessed 3 June 2024.

Timcast IRL. President Trump Talks Immigration & War WIth Tim Pool w/ Trump & Kash Patel | Timcast IRL. 2024. YouTube, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dHrGC_-vCWA.