At Campaign Rally, Trump Hints He Could Fire Fauci Following the Election

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During a Sunday campaign event in Florida, President Donald Trump appeared to hint to the crowd that following the Nov. 3 election, he would terminate the decades-long tenure of Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).

Trump made his remarks in response to the crowd’s chants of “Fire Fauci” after he had complained about the media’s coverage of the surge of COVID-19 cases across the country. In the last days of his campaign, Trump has told his supporters that the United States is “turning the corner” when it comes to the novel coronavirus, even as countries across Europe are heading back into lockdown in order to curb a second wave of cases. Trump told the Opa-Lacka, Fla. crowd that Fauci was a nice guy, but said the nation’s top infectious disease specialist has been wrong a lot, according to CNN.

Fauci has become a vocal critic of the administration’s overall response to the pandemic, particularly as infections and hospitalizations continue to rise across the country. In an interview with the Washington Post published Saturday, Fauci said the United States needed to make an “abrupt change” in public health practices and behaviors. He said the country could surpass 100,000 new coronavirus cases a day and predicted rising deaths in the coming weeks, according to the Post.

Fauci also criticized the Trump administration for elevating the position of Scott Atlas, a neuroradiologist who has touted herd immunity as the solution controlling the virus. Atlas has no experience combating infectious diseases.

“I have real problems with that guy," Fauci told the Post. “He's a smart guy who's talking about things that I believe he doesn't have any real insight or knowledge or experience in. He keeps talking about things that when you dissect it out and parse it out, it doesn't make any sense.”

Over the past nine months, the relationship between Fauci and the White House has deteriorated, and part of that could be due to the fact that in numerous polls, Americans have said they trust Fauci more than Trump to provide reliable information about the pandemic.

The government’s response to COVID-19 has become a key issue in the presidential election, with Trump defending his response to the virus. Over the course of the global outbreak, Trump seems to have grown disenchanted with Fauci, who has not minced words about what he believes is needed to control the spread of the virus, which has infected more than 9 million people in the United States and led to the deaths of more than 231,000 Americans. Trump has also criticized doctors on the front lines of the pandemic, claiming during a rally that they are inflating the death toll of the virus in order to secure additional federal funding.

During the interview with the Post, Fauci drew contrasts between the COVID-19 responses from both the Trump administration and the campaign of former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic nominee for president. He said the Trump camp has primarily viewed the pandemic through the lens of the economy and the need to reopen the country. The Biden campaign, “is taking it seriously from a public health perspective," he was quoted as saying.

As colder weather begins to blanket the United States and the holiday season, as well as flu season approaching, Fauci told the Post that the country could not be “positioned more poorly” to combat the virus.

Following Fauci’s interview with the Post, the White House and Atlas lashed out at the infectious disease specialist. A White House spokesperson accused Fauci of playing politics three days before the election by openly criticizing the president to the media, rather than during COVID-19 taskforce meetings. Atlas also criticized Fauci in a post on his Twitter account, CNN reported.

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