President Trump Hints He Will Fire Anthony Fauci after Election Day

Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks during hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S. June 30, 2020. ( Al Drago/Reuters)

President Trump on Monday hinted that he may fire Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, after Election Day as the U.S. sees its worst coronavirus surge since spring.

Trump lamented how much news coverage the pandemic has received during a campaign rally in Opa-locka, Florida and was met with chants of “Fire Fauci” from a crowd of thousands of supporters, according to the Associated Press.

“Don’t tell anybody but let me wait until a little bit after the election,” Trump told the crowd, saying he appreciated their “advice.”

According to the Associated Press, Trump has previously said he was concerned about the political implications of firing Fauci, who is on the White House coronavirus task force, ahead of Election Day. In September, a Kaiser Family Foundation poll showed 68 percent of Americans have a great deal or a fair amount of trust in Fauci to provide reliable information on the virus — more confidence than either Joe Biden or President Trump had inspired, at 52 percent and 40 percent, respectively. 

Trump’s handling of the virus that has killed more than 231,000 people in the United States this year has remained top of mind for many as the president has resumed campaigning nationwide after his own bout with the virus that saw him hospitalized for three days.

The president has said that the nation is “rounding the turn” on the virus, while Fauci and other health experts have warned the U.S. is headed for a difficult winter as colder temperatures and holidays push people to gather inside where the virus is more easily spread.

Fauci told the Washington Post over the weekend that the U.S. “could not possibly be positioned more poorly” to handle rising cases as winter comes. The country will need to make an “abrupt change” in public health precautions, he said.

He warned that Americans will have to deal with “a whole lot of hurt” in the weeks ahead.

Fauci went on to compare the two presidential candidates’ approach to the virus, saying Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden “is taking it seriously from a public health perspective,” while Trump is “looking at it from a different perspective,” one that emphasizes “the economy and reopening the country.”

White House spokesman Judd Deere accused Fauci of playing politics ahead of the election, saying the doctor “has a duty to express concerns or push for a change in strategy” but instead is “choosing to criticize the president in the media and make his political leanings known.”

As a rift has grown between Fauci and Trump, the president has instead relied upon Stanford doctor Scott Atlas as his lead science adviser on the pandemic, though Atlas has no prior background in infectious diseases or public health. Atlas has publicly expressed skepticism over precautions to mitigate the spread of the virus, such as mask wearing.

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