President Donald Trump does not take kindly to even the slightest scrutiny. This past Sunday, he expressed the first hint of public opposition to Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health, who has been helping lead the administration’s response to the Coronavirus pandemic. Trump retweeted a message that included the hashtag “#FireFauci,” adding a diatribe against the supposed fake news that was pushing the idea — based on Fauci’s own remarks — that earlier action from the president on Coronavirus could have saved lives. Reportedly, over the weekend, Trump was also privately asking allies what they thought of Fauci during a slew of phone conversations — as if the opinions of Trump’s most ardent shills should guide national public health policy.
Besides the contention over whether Trump could have helped save lives via taking the Coronavirus seriously at an earlier point, Fauci also drew criticism from Trump World for seemingly confirming that privately, he’d been advocating for social distancing at least a month before the national demand was implemented.
The Daily Beast reports, based on the testimony of three anonymous sources:
‘[The] doctor appeared to weigh on Trump’s mind this Easter weekend. “What do you think of Fauci?” the president repeatedly worked into his phone conversations over the past few days… as he pulsed his broader network of informal advisers, industry allies, and current staff on their opinions on the news of the day. At one point this weekend, Trump remarked that he’s made Fauci a “star” and that barely anybody would have known who the doctor was were it not for the president putting him front and center in the administration’s coronavirus response, televised press briefings, and media strategy.’
One of the sources added:
‘He did not sound bitter about it, I wouldn’t say that. It just sounded like he thought it was worth a reminder.’
The president’s idea that he made Fauci a star or whatever is not actually correct. Fauci has worked in public health for decades. Like fellow Coronavirus task force member Dr. Deborah Birx, he worked on the response to the HIV outbreak of the 1980s. He did not need Trump to come along with his pompously self-confident star power to grant him some kind of high profile. Fauci was working in public health while Trump was off jetting around the world to put his name in gold letters on large buildings.
There’s a real, acute relevance to Trump attempting to drum up opinions on Fauci from his allies, as if he’s seeking some kind of validation for a decision to keep the doctor onboard — or fire him, in a potential worst case scenario.
Dr. Anthony Fauci said imposing social distancing measures earlier to curb spread of coronavirus, as he suggested to the White House in February, “could have saved lives.” Trump signaled he's had enough of Fauci's truth, retweeting a "fire Fauci" message. https://t.co/KHDmPI0yQa
— Jon Cooper 🇺🇸 (@joncoopertweets) April 13, 2020
The United States is currently grappling with the question of when to “reopen” the economy after the broad social distancing measures demanded by authorities across the U.S. in an effort to restrict the spread of the Coronavirus. Not too long ago, Trump had been trying to have the economy rolling again by Easter — this past weekend — but that timeframe ended up an apparent peak of the pandemic, and reopening could have led to even more deaths. It’s Fauci who helped convince Trump against reopening. If Trump were to “#FireFauci,” that reason would be gone.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 12, 2020