President Trump slammed Dr. Anthony Fauci and other health official members as “idiots” who “got it wrong” during a call with campaign staff Monday morning, describing the nation’s top infectious disease expert as a “disaster” who has been around for “500 years.”
“People are tired of COVID,” Trump said in a conference call with thousands of campaign staffers Monday morning with a few reporters invited to listen in. “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.”
He derided the infectious diseases expert for providing inconsistent advice during the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, citing how Dr. Fauci and other public health experts changed their position on mask usage as one of the examples.
“People are tired of hearing Fauci and these idiots, all these idiots who got it wrong,” Trump said. “He’s been here for 500 years, he called every one of them wrong. Every time he goes on television, there’s always a bomb, but there’s 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.”
The remarks from the president comes after Dr. Fauci made headlines from his interview with CBS 60 minutes Sunday evening, where he said he was “absolutely not” surprised that Trump contracted a coronavirus, given the lack of White House precautions.
“I was worried that he was going to get sick when I saw him in a completely precarious situation of crowded, no separation between people, and almost nobody wearing a mask,” Dr. Fauci said. “When I saw that on TV, I said: ‘Oh my goodness. Nothing good can come out of that. That’s got to be a problem.’ And then, sure enough, it turned out to be a super-spreader event.”
When asked if the White House has controlled his media appearance, Dr. Fauci responded: “I think you’d have to be honest and say yes. I certainly have not been allowed to go on many, many, many shows that have asked for me. I think there has been a restriction, but it doesn’t — it isn’t consistent.”
White House communications director Alyssa Farah rejected Fauci’s claim Monday, telling Fox News that the process of booking administration officials for interviews is “a little more complicated than that.”
“Dr. Fauci has been on an incredible amount of TV,” Farah said. “It’s hard to turn on the TV and not see him. And we’re certainly not trying to stifle him sharing important information with the public.”
The president continued his feud, unloading on the infectious doctor in a pair of tweets. After the call, Trump criticized the infectious doctor for claiming that the White House is restricting his media appearance. He also mocked Dr. Fauci for his “bad arm,” referring to the wild first pitch the infectious doctor threw during the Washington Nationals season opener in July.
…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!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 19, 2020
In a follow-up tweet, Trump said that Fauci should stop donning the Washington National baseball team face mask “for two reasons.”
“Number one, it is not up to the high standards that he should be exposing,” Trump wrote. “Number two, it keeps reminding me that Tony threw out perhaps the worst first pitch in the history of Baseball!”
Shortly after arriving in Prescott, Arizona Monday afternoon ahead of his first campaign rally, Trump was asked by reporters why he doesn’t consider just firing the doctor.
“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,” Trump said in response.
“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 guy.”
Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) who chairs the Senate Health Committee defended Dr. Fauci in a statement after the tirade of attacks from the president.
“Dr. Fauci is one of our country’s most distinguished public servants. He has served six presidents, starting with Ronald Reagan,” Alexander said. “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.”