CNN reports that Trump sounded frustrated on the call, seemingly brushing off the virus that he contracted earlier this month. America has over 8 million confirmed cases of the virus, and 220,000 deaths. Still, Trump suggested Americans are "tired of COVID," pointing to his "huge rallies" as proof of that. "People are saying whatever. Just leave us alone," he said. "They're tired of it. People are tired of hearing Fauci and all these idiots."
Trump has clashed with Dr. Fauci in the past, presumably because his scientific approach to beating the virus doesn't paint Trumpism's anti-science tenets in the most positive light. The call on Monday was held from Trump's hotel in Las Vegas, where he was staying as part of his reelection campaign. He backtracked somewhat on his criticism of Fauci, but decided to toss in some ageism for good measure. "Fauci is a nice guy," he added. "He's been here for 500 years."
During the call, Trump also suggested that there would have been more deaths if he followed everything Fauci said.
"Fauci is a disaster. If I listened to him, we'd have 500,000 deaths," he said, later repeating himself and raising the number even higher. "If there's a reporter on, you can have it just the way I said it, I couldn't care less."
These comments come as Fauci claimed on a recent 60 Minutes interview that the Trump administration had been restricting how many interviews he could do about COVID-19.
Fauci, who is only five years older than President Trump, has worked as the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984, and has been the face of the White House Coronavirus Task Force. Trump's latest attack on Fauci comes at a particuarly strange time, as his reelection campaign has claimed Fauci endorsed Trump's coronavirus response in an ad currently airing. Fauci himself has disputed the commercial, and said his words were taken out of context.
Addressing Fauci's claim that he was made to limit his interviews, Trump took his issues to Twitter. "Dr. Tony Fauci says we don’t allow him to do television, and yet I saw him last night on @60Minutes, and he seems to get more airtime than anybody since the late, great, Bob Hope," he wrote. "All I ask of Tony is that he make better decisions. He said 'no masks & let China in.' Also, Bad arm!"
The last part of the tweet is an attack on Dr. Fauci's first pitch at a Nationals game, which Trump still appears to be jealous of. "Tony should stop wearing the Washington Nationals’ Mask for two reasons. Number one, it is not up to the high standards that he should be exposing. Number two, it keeps reminding me that Tony threw out perhaps the worst first pitch in the history of Baseball!"
See reactions to Trump's latest comments below.
At a Sunday rally, Trump disparaged science in an attempt to scare people from voting for Joe Biden.
“He’ll listen to the scientists,” he said mockingly. “If I listened totally to the scientists, we would right now have a country that would be in a massive depression instead—we’re like a rocket ship. Take a look at the numbers.”