WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — The relationship between President Donald Trump and the nation’s top expert on infectious diseases continues to deteriorate as Trump suggested at a campaign rally he might fire Dr. Anthony Fauci.
“Don’t tell anybody, but let me wait until a little bit after the election,” Trump said at the late Sunday night Florida rally as his supporters chanted, “Fire Fauci!”
The White House says Fauci wrongfully criticized the president in recent interviews and argued he was playing politics as the election nears.
Trump continues to say the nation is “rounding the turn” in the coronavirus pandemic, even as several states continue to see surging case numbers.
“The dynamics of the outbreak are going in the wrong direction,” Fauci said.
He said that while survival rates are better, the country could soon surpass 100,000 new coronavirus cases daily and soon after see a spike in deaths.
At a Monday rally in Ohio, Trump’s political rival former Vice President Joe Biden argued Americans trust Fauci more than they trust Trump.
“Last night Trump said he’s going to fire Dr Fauci,” he said. “I’ve got a better idea: Elect me and I’m going to hire Fauci.”
A recent Morning Consult poll, a majority of Americans approve of Fauci’s pandemic response, though response differed along party lines. Seventy-nine percent of Democrats said Fauci has done a good or excellent job, compared to 56% of independents and 54% of Republicans.
It’s unclear if the president actually has the power to fire Fauci, who is not a political appointee. He is a civil servant who has served under every administration, Democrat and Republican, since President Ronald Reagan.