Top US government scientist Anthony Fauci has said a clip of him used in a Trump campaign advert is misleading.
His words that he “can’t imagine that anybody could be doing more” to fight Covid-19 appear in the ad to refer to President Donald Trump specifically.
But Dr Fauci, who clashed with Mr Trump before on Covid, was actually talking about himself and other staff.
The infectious diseases expert said he had never publicly endorsed any political candidate.
The dispute comes as President Trump returns to the campaign trail on Monday, just two days after his doctors gave him the all-clear to resume public events following his own treatment for coronavirus.
He faces Democrat Joe Biden in the election on 3 November.
What’s the Fauci row about?
The 30-second campaign advert declares that “President Trump is recovering from the coronavirus, and so is America”, before playing the clip of Dr Fauci.
The Fauci footage comes from an interview the epidemiologist did with Fox News in March.
Dr Fauci’s full words in that interview are: “I have been devoting almost full time on this. I’m down at the White House virtually every day with the task force. It’s every single day. So, I can’t imagine that under any circumstances that anybody could be doing more.”
Dr Fauci said in a statement on Sunday: “The comments attributed to me without my permission in the GOP [Republican Party] campaign ad were taken out of context from a broad statement I made months ago about the efforts of federal public health officials.”
He says: “In my nearly five decades of public service, I have never publicly endorsed any political candidate.”
The Trump campaign defended the advert.
Spokesman Tim Murtaugh said: “These are Dr Fauci’s own words. The video is from a nationally broadcast television interview in which Dr Fauci was praising the work of the Trump administration. The words spoken are accurate, and directly from Dr Fauci’s mouth.