Donald Trump on Sunday night retweeted a call to fire Dr. Anthony Fauci, tweeted by a Republican congressional candidate and conspiracy theorist.
The retweet came as Trump faced stepped-up criticism for his handling of the crisis, and Fauci, the nation’s top expert on contagious diseases, acknowledged on CNN’s State of the Union that the virus could have been stopped sooner.
Said Fauci: “I mean, obviously, you could logically say that if you had a process that was ongoing and you started mitigation earlier, you could have saved lives. Obviously, no one is going to deny that. But what goes into those kinds of decisions is complicated. But you’re right. 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.”
The Daily Beast reports: “Over the weekend, the president picked up the phone and began dialing various close advisers and associates to ask them their opinion on how soon he should “open” the U.S. economy and call for Americans to start resuming business as usual, according to three people familiar with the conversations. … ‘What do you think of Fauci?’ the president repeatedly worked into his phone conversations over the past few days, the three sources said, as he pulsed his broader network of informal advisers, industry allies, and current staff on their opinions on the news of the day. At one point this weekend, Trump remarked that he’s made Fauci a “star” and that barely anybody would have known who the doctor was were it not for the president putting him front and center in the administration’s coronavirus response, televised press briefings, and media strategy.”
The NYT adds: “Dr. Fauci has become a celebrated figure among much of the public, which trusts him far more than Mr. Trump, according to polls. A Quinnipiac University survey last week found that 78 percent of Americans approved of Dr. Fauci’s handling of the crisis compared with 46 percent who approved of the president’s response. That has prompted resentment among other government officials, some of whom have privately criticized Dr. Fauci for playing to the media and not always sending consistent messages. Mr. Trump spent much of Easter Sunday deflecting criticism and finding other targets.”