President Donald Trump signaled early Monday morning that he may fire Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, after Election Day.
The suggestion from the president came just minutes after midnight at a campaign rally in Opa-locka, Fla., where Trump again claimed the United States was “rounding the turn” in its fight against the coronavirus, even though the country has set records in recent days for new cases.
Trump also complained that the media was overly focused on coverage of the pandemic — “you turn on the news, ‘Covid, Covid, Covid, Covid, Covid’” — and predicted that on “Nov. 4, you won’t hear too much about it.”
The dismissive remarks were followed by scattered shouts of “fire Fauci,” which the president paused to take in as they consumed the crowd. “Ooh,” Trump appeared to say, surveying his supporters.
“Don’t tell anybody, but let me wait till a little bit after the election,” Trump said as the chanting died down, provoking a new round of cheers and applause.
Trump’s latest indication that he will possibly oust Fauci comes as the president has escalated his attacks on the widely trusted immunologist in the final months of the general election campaign.
In a heated call with his campaign staff last month, Trump described his administration’s public health officials as “idiots,” and said of Fauci: “Every time he goes on television, there’s always a bomb. But there’s a bigger bomb if you fire him.”
At the same time, Trump has continued to downplay the severity of the pandemic’s threat during his crowded rallies — where social distancing and mask-wearing are uneven and not enforced — while also mocking face masks and arguing spiking Covid-19 caseloads are caused by increased testing.
But Trump’s own coronavirus testing czar, Adm. Brett Giroir, has debunked that claim, and the U.S. has reported daily records of Covid-19 infections over the past week — tallying a new all-time high of roughly 99,000 cases on Friday.
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