Top US government scientist Anthony Fauci has said an edited clip of him used in a Trump campaign ad is misleading.
It shows Dr Fauci saying he “can’t imagine that anybody could be doing more” to fight Covid-19, suggesting he is speaking about President Trump.
However, Dr Fauci was talking about himself and other medical officials.
The infectious diseases expert has previously clashed with Mr Trump over how to handle the pandemic.
“In my nearly five decades of public service, I have never publicly endorsed any political candidate,” he said, in a statement sent to AFP news agency.
“The comments attributed to me without my permission in the GOP campaign ad were taken out of context from a broad statement I made months ago about the efforts of federal public health officials,” Dr Fauci added.
The 30-second campaign ad declares “President Trump is recovering from the coronavirus, and so is America”, before playing the clip of Dr Fauci.
However, in the original footage of Dr Fauci, which came from an interview the epidemiologist did with Fox News in March, he says: “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.”
In response, Trump campaign 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.”
President Trump also defended the use of the clip, tweeting: “They are indeed Dr Fauci’s own words. We have done a ‘phenomenal’ job, according to certain governors.”