President Donald Trump called infectious diseases expert Anthony Fauci a “disaster” on Monday, airing his frustration with the scientist during a call meant to reassure campaign staff he has a path to election victory on Nov. 3, despite trailing in opinion polls.
Trump and Fauci, a member of his coronavirus task force, have been at odds over how best to handle a pandemic that has killed more than 219,000 people in the United States and weakened the Republican president’s case for re-election.
Fauci, 79, who has served under Republican and Democratic presidents and is one of the most admired scientists in the United States, has urged that COVID-19 continue to be taken seriously. Trump has suggested the worst has passed. “Fauci is a disaster. If I listened to him, we’d have 500,000 deaths,” Trump said during the call, which the campaign allowed reporters to join.
Fauci has openly complained about being included, and quoted out of context, in a Trump campaign advertisement that discussed the administration’s pandemic response. He said in a CBS’ “60 Minutes” interview broadcast on Sunday that he was not surprised Trump himself contracted the virus.—Reuters