'I appreciate the advice': After crowd chants 'Fire Fauci!' Trump says to wait until after the election

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President Trump hinted that he may ‘fire Fauci’ after Election Day, as cheers erupted at a campaign rally in Opa-locka, Florida. USA TODAY

OPA-LOCKA, Fla. President Donald Trump told a crowd of supporters on Sunday he would fire Dr. Anthony Fauci if elected to a second term as the nation’s leader on infectious diseases continually pushes back on the president’s rosy outlook on the coronavirus. 

Trump made the remark during a rally in Opa-locka, Florida, that capped off a marathon day in which the president visited five battleground states. 

“We’re going to have a safe vaccine that ends the pandemic,” Trump promised the crowd. But he said that even without it, “we’re rounding the turn.” 

He repeated complaints he has made along the campaign trail about being tired of discussing the pandemic, which has killed more than 230,000 people in the U.S., and again claimed, without evidence, that his opponents would no longer be concerned about the virus after the election. 

“Fire Fauci!” the crowd then began to chant. 

Trump paused briefly to listen to the refrain before telling his supporters, “Don’t tell anybody, but let me wait ’til a little bit after the election, please.” 

“I appreciate the advice. I appreciate the advice,” Trump continued. “No, he’s been wrong though a lot. He’s a nice man though. He’s been wrong on a lot.” 

The president repeated his past criticisms of Fauci for initially opposing the use of masks and the ban on travel from China. 

In an interview with The Washington Post that was conducted Friday and published Saturday, Fauci said contrary to the president’s assertions, the U.S. still faces a “whole lot of hurt” from the virus, which is currently causing more new cases every day in the U.S. than at any other point in the outbreak. 

“It’s not a good situation,” said Fauci, who has served as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984. “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.” 

‘The data speak for themselves’: Dr. Anthony Fauci says White House held a ‘superspreader event’ for coronavirus

In addition to disagreeing on the state of the pandemic, Trump likely also took issue with Fauci’s comments that praised Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s adherence to recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Fauci told the Post that Biden’s campaign “is taking it seriously from a public health perspective.” He said Trump is “looking at it from a different perspective” that focused on “the economy and reopening the country.” 

The White House sharply criticized Fauci for his remarks, labeling him a member of “the swamp.” 

“It’s unacceptable and breaking with all norms for Dr. Fauci, a senior member of the President’s Coronavirus Taskforce and someone who has praised President Trump’s actions throughout this pandemic, to choose three days before an election to play politics,” said White House spokesman Judd Deere.

Deere said Fauci should push for changes internally, but instead chose “to criticize the President in the media and make his political leanings known by praising the President’s opponent – exactly what the American people have come to expect from The Swamp.”

It was not the first public squabble between Trump and Fauci. Last month, the president called Fauci “a disaster” who drops a “bomb” every time he goes on television after the renowned doctor told CBS News’ “60 Minutes” he was “absolutely not” surprised Trump – who he said regularly eschewed the use of masks “as a statement of strength” –contracted COVID-19. 

“He sometimes equates wearing a mask with weakness,” said Fauci, adding that view made no sense to him. 

After the interview, Trump told supporters at a rally, “People are tired of hearing Fauci and all these idiots.” 

Asked why he didn’t fire Fauci after that exchange, Trump told reporters, “I don’t want to. I don’t want to hurt him. He’s been there for about 350 years.”

Contributing: David Jackson and Courtney Subramanian 

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