Photo: Dr Anthony Fauci
President Donald Trump called coronavirus expert Anthony Fauci a “disaster” on Monday, airing his frustration with the scientist during a call meant to reassure campaign staff he has a path to victory on Nov. 3 despite trailing in opinion polls.
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 Republican president’s case for re-election.
Fauci, 79, who has served under Republican and Democratic presidents and is one of the most admired scientists in the United States, has urged that COVID-19 continue to be taken seriously. Trump has suggested the worst has passed.
“Fauci is a disaster. If I listened to him, we’d have 500,000 deaths,” Trump said during the call, which the campaign allowed reporters to join.
Fauci has openly complained about being cited in a Trump re-election campaign advertisement that discussed the administration’s pandemic response, and said in an interview broadcast on Sunday night by CBS’ “60 Minutes” that he was not surprised Trump himself contracted the virus.
Trump, speaking from his signature hotel in Las Vegas ahead of two rallies in Arizona, said Fauci bombed during TV interviews but that it would be “a bigger bomb if you fire him.”
Fauci’s office did not immediately respond to Reuters’ request for comment.