Rumors have been swirling for some time about growing tensions on the White House coronavirus task force, particularly between President Donald Trump and the nation’s foremost infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci.
President Donald Trump added fuel to the flames on Sunday when he pulled the trigger on retweeting a social media post that included the hashtag #FireFauci.
This came after Fauci appeared on CNN on Sunday and made comments that appeared to call Trump’s coronavirus crisis response into question, sparking backlash from many Trump supporters.
Some have speculated that the relationship between Fauci and Trump has been decaying for the past several weeks because President Trump is committed to reopening the economy soon, while Dr. Fauci has repeatedly advised Trump to pump the brakes.
While Dr. Fauci still agreed as late as March 9th that it was safe for healthy Americans to carry about with their normal lives, in a Sunday interview on CNN, he answered some “hypothethical” questions about how the coronavirus situation may have been different with earlier shutdowns. Some interpreted this as Fauci blaming Trump for rejecting early social distancing recommendations.
“What goes into those kinds of decisions is – is complicated. But you’re right. I mean, obviously, if we had, right from the very beginning, shut everything down, it may have been a little bit different. But there was a lot of pushback about shutting things down back then,” Fauci told CNN.
Former Republican congressional candidate DeAnna Lorraine tweeted, “Fauci is now saying that had Trump listened to the medical experts earlier he could’ve saved more lives. Fauci was telling people on February 29th that there was nothing to worry about and it posed no threat to the US public at large. Time to #FireFauci…”
President Trump kicked up a media firestorm by retweeting Lorraine’s tweet, adding “Sorry Fake News, it’s all on tape. I banned China long before people spoke up. Thank you @OANN.”
It’s not happening
Despite the rumors, it seems Dr. Fauci will be staying put. White House spokesman Hogan Gidley said on Monday, “This media chatter is ridiculous — President Trump is not firing Dr. Fauci.”
“The president’s tweet clearly exposed media attempts to maliciously push a falsehood about his China decision in an attempt to rewrite history,” Gidley added.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has worked closely with the White House throughout the coronavirus crisis, (D) chimed in on the kerfuffle, telling reporters on Monday, “As crazy as things get in this world and in crazy Washington, I can’t imagine that [firing Fauci] would ever happen.”
Dr. Fauci appeared on Trump’s daily coronavirus task force briefing on Monday as usual, where he defended the president and clarified his remarks from the CNN interview. “Hypothetical questions sometimes can get you into some difficulty,” Fauci said, saying he regretted his “poor choice of words.”