Donald Trump called Dr. Anthony Fauci a “disaster” on Monday, following Fauci’s appearance Sunday night on “60 Minutes.” In a conference call with campaign staff, the president said people were “tired of coronavirus,” and “people are tired of hearing Fauci and all these idiots,” Fox News reported. He added that firing Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease since 1984, would cause more problems than it would solve.
The comments follow months of public disagreements between Trump and his top health leaders. The president claimed on the call with more than 2,000 campaign staffers that Fauci had provided him with inconsistent advice. He claimed, without providing evidence, that more than 700,000 Americans would have died had he listened to Fauci. Currently, John Hopkins University says COVID-19 has killed more than 220,000 in the United States.
“He’s like this wonderful guy, a wonderful sage telling us how he said, do not wear facemasks — that’s a number of months ago. He said, do not close it up to China. I have a list of 15 things,” Trump said according to The Hill. “And yet we keep him. Every time he goes on television there’s always a bomb. But there is a bigger bomb if you fire him. But Fauci is a disaster. I mean, this guy, if I listened to him, we would have 500,000 deaths.”
Later Trump raised the figure. “Fauci, if we listened to him, we’d have 700,000 to 800,000 deaths right now. So, with that, I get along with him. If there’s a reporter on, you have it just the way I said it. I couldn’t care less.”
Dr. Anthony Fauci goes on ’60 Minutes’
Trump seemed angry that Anthony Fauci had appeared on “60 Minutes” Sunday. Fauci said during the 13-minute interview that he wasn’t surprised that Trump caught COVID-19 because the president has refused to wear masks and social distance. Fauci also said that the White House had restricted his media appearances after he began to disagree with the president’s positions on the pandemic.
Trump has gone after Fauci and other health officials for their seeming change over wearing masks in public. Fauci said on “60 Minutes” that he reversed course and said everyone should wear masks in public after new reports earlier this year showed that asymptomatic people were driving the spread of the virus. Also, he said, new data showed that cloth masks were just as effective as N95 masks or surgical masks.
“When you find out you’re wrong, it’s a manifestation of your honesty to say, ‘Hey, I was wrong. I did subsequent experiments and now it’s this way,'” Fauci said.
He added during the interview that he doesn’t think Trump is anti-science, which he’s been called by some of his critics.
“I think deep down, he believes in science,” Fauci said, “If he didn’t, he would not have entrusted his health to the very competent physicians at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center.”
Trump attacks Fauci on Twitter
The president went after Fauci on Twitter, saying that he was a bad doctor and would make a lousy pitcher in the MLB, for some reason. The president has mocked Fauci about his pitching accuracy since Fauci threw the first pitch at a National’s game this season and missed the strike zone by several feet.
“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!” the president tweeted.
The president followed that up. “P.S. Tony should stop wearing the Washington Nationals’ Mask for two reasons. Number one, it is not up to the high standards that he should be exposing. Number two, it keeps reminding me that Tony threw out perhaps the worst first pitch in the history of Baseball!”
Trump retweeted a video of himself throwing out a much more accurate first pitch at a game.
Democrats, Republican come to Fauci’s aid
Democratic candidate for president Joe Biden issued a statement slamming Trump for attacking Dr. Anthony Fauci.
“Coronavirus infections are spiking across the country, but President Trump decided to attack Dr. Fauci again today as a ‘disaster’ and call public health experts ‘idiots’ instead of laying out a plan to beat this virus or heeding their advice about how we can save lives and get our economy moving again,” Biden said in a statement.
“Waving a white flag and saying ‘it is what it is’ is unacceptable when thousands of American lives are being taken each week, when businesses are closing and schools remain shuttered,” he continued. “The American people have never backed down from a challenge, but they need a leader to show the way and all President Trump has done is cower and wallow in self-pity.”
Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander released a statement support Fauci and his nearly 40 years of public service.
“Dr. Fauci is one of our country’s most distinguished public servants,” said Alexander, according to USA Today. “He has served six presidents, starting with Ronald Reagan. If more Americans paid attention to his advice, we’d have fewer cases of COVID-19, and it would be safer to go back to school and back to work and out to eat.”
Trump was campaigning in Arizona Monday afternoon. Biden was off the campaign trail to prepare for his debate with Trump on Thursday.