Donald Trump denied considering firing Anthony Fauci, his widely respected leading infectious disease official, even after sharing a tweet that called for Mr Fauci’s ouster as the country was still battling the coronavirus outbreak.
Mr Fauci on Sunday said in a television interview that had the Trump administration ordered certain measures sooner, fewer Americans would have died. Hours later, the president re-tweeted an account who wrote “Time to #FireFauci”. Mr Trump a day later was asked if noticed the hashtag. “I notice everything,” he shot back in a tense and aggressive briefing. “It was someone’s opinion. … I think he’s a great guy.”
The president challenged reporters to ask White House press aides what he said when they inquired about reports he might fire Mr Fauci, telling them they would be told, “I like the guy.”
Mr Fauci has at numerous points contradicted the president about the scope of the outbreak, when it might end, and whether the federal government acted quickly enough.
At the top of the daily press conference, which Mr Trump contends is reaching millions amid Democrats’ calls he end them, Mr Fauci took the lectern to explain a comment he made Sunday on CNN was taken out of context.
He tried to explain he merely meant that, by definition, had the federal government ordered “strong mitigation” steps like social distancing, fewer Americans would have died.
Media outlets described that comment as Fauci criticising Mr Trump, something Mr Fauci denied strongly.