Fauci, a key member of the White House coronavirus task force, has increasingly become a focus for the presidentâ€™s frustration as he bids to shape the messaging on the much-criticized federal response to the pandemic.
â€œPeople are tired of Covid,â€� Trump told his campaign team in a call on which several members of the press were present.
â€œPeople are saying, â€˜Whatever â€” just leave us alone.â€™ Theyâ€™re tired of it. People are tired of hearing Fauci and all these idiots,â€� the president said, according to several US media outlets.
The pandemic has killed almost 220,000 people in the United States.
â€œHeâ€™s been here for, like, 500 years,â€� Trump complained of the 79-year-old Fauci, who is recognized worldwide for his work directing the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases in suburban Washington.
â€œFauci, if we listened to him, weâ€™d have 700,000 (or) 800,000 deaths,â€� Trump claimed on the call, before saying that it would be counterproductive to fire him before the presidential election November 3.
The presidentâ€™s latest attack seemed to garner a defense of the doctor from Republican Senator Lamar Alexander.
â€œDr. Fauci is one of our countryâ€™s most distinguished public servants. He has served 6 presidents, starting with Ronald Reagan,â€� Alexander tweeted.
â€œIf more Americans paid attention to his advice, weâ€™d have fewer cases of COVID-19, & it would be safer to go back to school & back to work & out to eat.â€�
Trumpâ€™s remarks came a week after Fauci expressed displeasure at the use of a clip of him in a Trump campaign video about the coronavirus.
â€œIn my nearly five decades of public service, I have never publicly endorsed any political candidate,â€� the immunologist hit back, saying his statements in the video were taken out of context.
At various points during the pandemic response, Fauci has clarified or corrected Trumpâ€™s public comments on the development of Covid-19 treatments and vaccines.
The tone between them has sometimes turned tense, as in April when Trump retweeted a post that contained the hashtag #FireFauci â€” before reassuring the American people that â€œTonyâ€� was doing a great job.
Â© Agence France-Presse