Dr. Fauci made his concern clear last week. “I think we’ve got to be careful that we don’t make that majestic leap to assume that this is a knockout drug,” he said on Friday on Fox News. “We still need to do the kinds of studies that definitively prove whether any intervention, not just this one, any intervention is truly safe and effective.”
The same day, Laura Ingraham, a Fox host, visited Mr. Trump at the White House with two doctors who had been on her program promoting hydroxychloroquine, one of whom made a presentation on its virtues, according to an official, confirming a Washington Post report.
The next day, Peter Navarro, the president’s trade adviser, who has been assigned to expedite production of medical equipment and become an advocate of the drug, upbraided Dr. Fauci at a White House task force meeting, according to people informed about the discussion.
Mr. Navarro arrived at the meeting armed with a thick sheaf of papers recounting research. When the issue was raised, according to a person informed about the meeting, confirming a report by Axios, Mr. Navarro picked it up off a chair, dropped it on the table and started handing out copies.
Mr. Navarro, who earned a doctorate in economics from Harvard, defended his position on Monday despite his lack of medical credentials. “Doctors disagree about things all the time. My qualifications in terms of looking at the science is that I’m a social scientist,” he said on CNN. “I have a Ph.D. And I understand how to read statistical studies, whether it’s in medicine, the law, economics or whatever.”
Mr. Trump made clear on Sunday whose side he took in Mr. Navarro’s confrontation with Dr. Fauci. At his briefing after the meeting, he said it was wrong to wait for the kind of study Dr. Fauci wanted. “We don’t have time,” the president said. “We don’t have two hours because there are people dying right now.”
Some associates of Mr. Trump’s have financial interests in the issue. Sanofi’s largest shareholders include Fisher Asset Management, the investment company run by Ken Fisher, a major donor to Republicans, including Mr. Trump. A spokesman for Mr. Fisher declined to comment.