US President Donald Trump named coronavirus expert Anthony Fauci a “disaster”, and said, despite signs that the nation was headed toward another coronavirus peak, that people were “tired” of hearing about the virus from “these idiots” in the government.
Trump said, “Fauci is a disaster. If I listened to him, we’d have 500,000 deaths,” while on a call with campaign workers which the campaign allowed reporters to join, adding Americans were fed up with pandemic restrictions.
Trump and Fauci, a member of his coronavirus task force, have been at odds over how best to handle a pandemic that has killed more than 219,000 people in the United States and weakened the former’s re-election bid.
Fauci has openly complained about being cited in a Trump re-election campaign advertisement. He also said he wasn’t surprised Trump himself contracted the virus.
Trump’s rallies include many supporters not wearing masks and standing shoulder to shoulder at odds with the guidance of Fauci and other public health experts.
In stark contrast, Fauci is one of the most respected scientists in the United States and has served under Republican and Democratic presidents. He has been director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984.
Trump suggested he had avoided firing Fauci because of the negative blowback he would receive.
At various points during the pandemic response, Fauci has clarified or corrected Trump’s public comments on the development of Covid-19 treatments and vaccines.
With nearly two weeks to go until Election Day, Democrat Joe Biden holds a lead in national opinion polls and in many battleground states where the election is likely to be decided.