Trump Hints That He’s All But Certain to Fire Fauci

“Don’t tell anybody, but let me wait until a little bit after the election.”

Giorgio Viera/ZUMA

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President Trump’s attacks against Dr. Anthony Fauci—which last month saw the president label him and other health officials “idiots”—have come to this: the president is hinting that he’ll fire the country’s leading expert on infectious diseases shortly “after the election.”

“Don’t tell anybody, but let me wait until a little bit after the election,” Trump told supporters at a Sunday rally in Opa-Locka, Florida, as chants of “Fire Fauci” broke out. He added, “I appreciate the advice.” 

Trump doesn’t have the power to directly sack Fauci—he’d need to get Fauci’s supervisor to do it—but as my colleague Dan Friedman noted back in April, the president could dramatically restrain his role as a member of the White House’s coronavirus task force. But the suggestion is the latest sign of the rapidly deteriorating relationship between Trump and Fauci, who, despite the president’s barely contained animosity, remains trusted by an overwhelming majority of Americans. In the final weekend before the election, as the United States continues to shatter infection records through a third wave of the pandemic, Fauci ratcheted up his criticism of Trump’s handling of the crisis, telling the Washington Post that the country “could not possibly be positioned more poorly.” The White House quickly pounced on the interview, baselessly accusing Fauci of being politically motivated.

As stunning as Trump’s suggestion to unseat one of the nation’s top scientists might be, targeting a voice committed to sharing unwelcome news about the virus is a move in lockstep with his closing campaign message: Ignore the over 225,000 deaths and embrace my deadly coronavirus denial. We’ll see how Americans feel about that soon enough.

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