President Donald Trump on Monday lambasted Dr. Anthony Fauci, whose advice helped set national policy in the administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Trump spoke about Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, during a call with his campaign staff.
“Every time he goes on television there’s always a bomb, but there’s a bigger bomb if you fire him,” Trump said on the call, according to Axios.
“People are tired of COVID,” Trump said. “I have the biggest rallies I’ve ever had, and we have COVID.”
“People are saying ‘whatever. Just leave us alone.’ They’re tired of it. People are tired of hearing Fauci and all these idiots. These people. These people who have gotten it wrong,” Trump continued.
“Fauci is a nice guy. He’s been here for 500 years. He’s a disaster.”
Trump said that he did not follow Fauci’s advice to the letter.
“If I listened to him, we’d have 500,000 deaths,” he said. Later in the call, Trump upped that figure to as high as 800,000 deaths.
The media was given access to the call, a point to which Trump alluded.
“If there’s a reporter on, you can have it just the way I said it, I couldn’t care less,” Trump said.
Trump later tweeted about Fauci.
“Dr. Tony Fauci says we don’t allow him to do television, and yet I saw him last night on @60Minutes, and he seems to get more airtime than anybody since the late, great, Bob Hope. All I ask of Tony is that he make better decisions. He said ‘no masks & let China in.’ Also, Bad arm!”
Dr.Tony Fauci says we don’t allow him to do television, and yet I saw him last night on @60Minutes, and he seems to get more airtime than anybody since the late, great, Bob Hope. All I ask of Tony is that he make better decisions. He said “no masks & let China in”. Also, Bad arm!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 19, 2020
Trump was later asked about Fauci when he arrived in Arizona Monday afternoon for rallies there.
“Dr. Fauci is a very nice man, but we let him do what he wants to do. He gets a lot of television. He loves being on television, and we let him do it. Sometimes he says things that are a little bit off, and they get built up, unfortunately,” Trump said.
“But he’s a nice guy. I like him. But he’s called a lot of bad calls. He said don’t wear a mask and he said don’t ban China. They were bad calls. He admits that. And I don’t hold that against him. If I did, I wouldn’t have him. I think he’s a nice a guy,” Trump said.
Asked why he did not fire Fauci, Trump replied, “I don’t want to. I don’t want to hurt him. He’s been there for about 350 years. I don’t want to hurt him.”
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