Deborah Birx frequently contemplated quitting her post as White House coronavirus response coordinator due to the hyperpartisan environment within the Trump administration, she said in an interview set to air Sunday.
Asked by Margaret Brennan on CBS' "Face the Nation" if she ever thought of leaving the administration's effort to combat the pandemic, Birx flatly responded "always."
"I mean, why would you want to put yourself through that every day?" Birx said. "Colleagues of mine that I had known for decades — decades — in that one experience, because I was in the White House, decided that I had become this political person, even though they had known me forever."
Under Donald Trump, public health officials frequently grew frustrated with a president who would contradict guidelines and research by his own health experts on the virus. Anthony Fauci, the government's top infectious diseases expert and one of the most front-facing members of the White House Covid response team, said he felt liberated after President Joe Biden took office.
During her interview with Brennan, Birx acknowledged that government Covid messaging was colored by the politics of the 2020 elections under Trump, but she denied ever withholding any information from the public.
Birx joined the Trump administration's Covid response team after serving as the U.S. leader in combating global HIV and AIDS under President Barack Obama. Her time working with the Trump White House made her a household name as she served as the administration's public face on the crisis, along with Fauci.
Birx announced last month she would retire from her position after assisting Biden's administration transition into the White House. During her interview with Brennan, Birx clarified her retirement would likely be within the next four to six weeks.
Her retirement announcement last month appeared to be tied to public outcry after The Associated Press reported she had traveled to family properties in Delaware with three generations of relatives during the Thanksgiving season. Though Birx said everyone was in her immediate household and that the trip was for maintenance on the properties and not to celebrate the holiday, she came under fire for appearing to flaunt Covid distancing guidelines as millions of Americans skipped celebrations due to the pandemic.
Birx said at the time that the experience was "a bit overwhelming" and "difficult" for her family.
“You know, they didn’t choose this for me. You know, they’ve tried to be supportive. But to drag my family into this, when my daughter hasn’t left that house in 10 months, my parents have been isolated for 10 months,” Birx said in an interview with Newsy last month. “They’ve become deeply depressed.”