OPA-LOCKA, Fla. (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump suggested early on Monday that he might seek to fire a highly respected member of his coronavirus task force, Anthony Fauci, after Fauci further criticized Trump’s handling of the virus.
Fauci, the country’s leading infectious-disease expert who is director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has taken issue with Trump’s repeated assertions that the U.S. fight against the virus was “rounding the turn” when in fact tens of thousands of people are being infected daily.
“We’re in for a whole lot of hurt. It’s not a good situation,” Fauci told The Washington Post on Friday. “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.”
When Trump defended his handling of the virus at a late-night campaign rally at Opa-Locka airport in the Miami area, a “Fire Fauci” chant broke out.
In response to the chant, Trump said: “Don’t tell anybody, but let me wait until a little bit after the election.”
Election Day is on Tuesday, with Trump trailing Democratic rival Joe Biden in opinion polls.
Fauci is one of the most popular health experts in the United States, a fact that Trump has cited in the past to avoid getting into tangles with him.
Reporting By Steve Holland; Editing Lincoln Feast.