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President Trump hints he may fire Fauci after the election as chants for his removal break out at rally

President Donald Trump suggested Sunday that he may act to remove Dr. Anthony Fauci from his position as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases after the election.

The president hinted at the move after supporters spontaneously broke out into a “Fire Fauci!” chant at a campaign rally in Opa-Locka, Florida, Sunday night.

“Don’t tell anybody, but let me wait ’til a little bit after the election,” Trump told the crowd as the chant faded. “I appreciate the advice, I appreciate the advice. No, he’s been wrong on a lot. He’s a nice man, though. He’s been wrong on a lot.”

Trump then went to criticize Fauci’s credibility, reminding the crowd that the public health expert advised against wearing masks and shutting down travel from China early on during the coronavirus pandemic, two positions he would later flip on.

Trump and Fauci have shared a tenuous working relationship since the start of the pandemic, as the two have often sparred over how best to lead the American people. As Trump has repeatedly insisted that the country needs to open up and recover economically, Fauci has been a consistent voice for the continued implementation of of social distancing measures.

The health expert said recently that even with the development and distribution of a vaccine, masks and social distancing should likely continue until 2022. More recently he forecast that the country was “in for a whole lot of hurt” in the coming months.

It’s not a good situation,” he told the Washington Post over the weekend. “All the stars are aligned in the wrong place as you go into the fall and winter season, with people congregating at home indoors. You could not possibly be positioned more poorly.”

Earlier this month, the president called Fauci a “disaster” during a campaign call.

“People are tired of COVID. I have these huge rallies. People are saying whatever. Just leave us alone. They’re tired of it. People are tired of hearing Fauci and all these idiots. … Fauci is a nice guy. He’s been here for 500 years,” Trump said.

“Fauci is a disaster. If I listened to him, we’d have 500,000 deaths,” he added. “If there’s a reporter on, you can have it just the way I said it, I couldn’t care less.”

It was not immediately clear whether the president was serious about firing Fauci, who has led the NIAID since 1985, or whether he was just playing to the crowd. Such an action would not necessarily come as a surprise since the president has shown a willingness to remove top public officials.

The move to fire Fauci, however, may not play particularly well in the polls, as Fauci still enjoys high favorability ratings among Americans.

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‘Wrong!’: President Trump clashes with Dr. Fauci over surge of COVID-19 cases

President Donald Trump fiercely rejected Dr. Anthony Fauci’s viewpoint on why the U.S. has experienced a new surge of COVID-19 cases.

Dr. Fauci testified before the U.S. House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis on Friday. Fauci, a top member of the White House coronavirus task force, gave his explanation as to why new cases of coronavirus in European countries are decreasing while surging in the United States.

“If you look at what happened in Europe when they shut down or locked down or went into shelter-in-place. … They really did it to the tune of about 95-plus percent of the country did that,” Fauci said. “When you actually look at what we did, even though we shut down, even though we created a great deal of difficulty, we really functionally shut down only about 50 percent in the sense of the totality of the country.”

Trump staunchly responded to a CBS News video of Fauci’s comments by saying, “Wrong! We have more cases because we have tested far more than any other country, 60,000,000. If we tested less, there would be less cases. How did Italy, France & Spain do? Now Europe sadly has flare ups. Most of our governors worked hard & smart. We will come back STRONG!”

The U.S. has tested approximately 60 million people for coronavirus. The European country with the most COVID-19 testing is the U.K., with over 16 million. Germany has tested 8 million, total testing for Italy and Spain is nearly 7 million, and France is at 3 million.

The U.S. has the fourth-most COVID-19 tests per one million population among countries most severely impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, trailing Qatar, Russia, and the U.K., which has the highest testing rate in the world.

The U.S. has 4.7 million confirmed COVID-19 cases, the most in the world. The U.S. also has the most novel coronavirus deaths, nearly 158,000.

Trump isn’t the only one to clash with the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases over his recent testimony. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) grilled Fauci during Friday’s hearing about the impact that nationwide protests have had on the spread of coronavirus. Trump retweeted the video of the tense exchange between Jordan and Fauci.

“Great job by Jim Jordan, and also some very good statements by Tony Fauci,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “Big progress being made!”

Last month, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) berated Fauci over what he called the politicization of the COVID-19 response, especially the reopening of schools.

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President Trump calls Dr. Fauci a ‘bit of an alarmist’ who ‘made mistakes,’ but says they have ‘good relationship’

President Donald Trump said Anthony Fauci is a “little bit of an alarmist” in an interview on “Fox News Sunday.” President Trump added that he also has a “very good relationship” with Fauci, one of the lead members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force.

In a lengthy interview with Fox News’ Chris Wallace recorded on Friday and released on Sunday, Trump gave his opinions on Fauci and the job he has done responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Dr. Fauci’s made some mistakes,” Trump said of the nation’s top infectious-disease expert. “But I have a very good — I spoke to him yesterday at length. I have a very good relationship with Dr. Fauci.”

Previously, Trump hadn’t spoken to Fauci since early June.

“Dr. Fauci at the beginning said, ‘This will pass. Don’t worry about it. This will pass.’ He was wrong,” Trump told Wallace. “Dr. Fauci said, ‘Don’t ban China. Don’t ban China.’ I did. He then admitted that I was right.”

Trump added that one of Fauci’s mistakes was his original stance that wearing of masks wasn’t necessary. In the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S., Fauci informed the public that they shouldn’t purchase face masks.

In mid-June, Fauci explained why he told Americans they didn’t need face masks in an interview with TheStreet.

“Well, the reason for that is that we were concerned the public health community, and many people were saying this, were concerned that it was at a time when personal protective equipment, including the N95 masks and the surgical masks, were in very short supply,” Fauci said last month. “And we wanted to make sure that the people namely, the health care workers, who were brave enough to put themselves in a harm way, to take care of people who you know were infected with the coronavirus and the danger of them getting infected.”

Last week, Fauci urged governors and mayors “to be as forceful as possible in getting your citizenry to wear masks.”

Trump said the Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases is “a little bit of an alarmist — that’s OK.”

Wallace asked President Trump if he takes responsibility for his role in the government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Look I take responsibility always for everything because it’s ultimately my job too, I have to get everybody in line,” Trump responded. “Some governors have done well, some governors have done poorly. They’re supposed to have supplies they didn’t have, I supplied everybody.”

Last week, a White House memo leaked that attempted to discredit Fauci, and the coronavirus task force member was referred to as “Dr. Gloom and Doom.”

Fauci gave an interview to The Atlantic, where he said that attacks by members of Trump’s administration to discredit him are “bizarre.”

“I think if you sit down and talk to the people who are involved in that list that came out, they are really, I think, taken aback by what a big mistake that was,” Fauci said. “I think if you talk to reasonable people in the White House, they realize that was a major mistake on their part, because it doesn’t do anything but reflect poorly on them. And I don’t think that that was their intention. I cannot figure out in my wildest dreams why they would want to do that. I think they realize now that that was not a prudent thing to do, because it’s only reflecting negatively on them.”