President Donald Trump retweeted a post calling for Dr. Anthony Fauci to be fired after Fauci appeared on CNN Sunday. Fauci, who heads up Trump's White House Coronavirus Task Force, appeared on the network's State of the Union and acknowledged that the country "could've saved lives" if mitigation efforts had started earlier. "You know, Jake, as I have said many times, we look at it from a pure health standpoint," Fauci told host Jake Tapper. "We make a recommendation. Often, the recommendation is taken. Sometimes it's not. But we — it is what it is. We are where we are right now."
Following that interview, GOP congressional candidate DeAnne Lorraine tweeted the hashtag #FireFauci. "Fauci is now saying that had Trump listened to the medical experts earlier he could've saved more lives," Lorraine wrote. "Fauci was telling people on February 20th that there was nothing to worry about and it posed no threat to the US public at large. Time to #FireFauci." Trump retweeted that post, seemingly directly disagreeing with the longtime director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. "Sorry Fake News, it's all on tape," Trump wrote, insisting his travel ban was the action needed to slow the spread. "I banned China long before people spoke up."
Trump in the past has retweeted critical tweets of officials or enemies rather than making the criticism himself. The retweet fueled speculation that Trump was running out of patience with the scientist and could conceivably fire him.
Fauci has assumed national prominence as a leader in the fight against the coronavirus, and has contradicted or corrected Trump on specific matters during the crisis, including whether the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine is effective against it.
Last week, drama brewed between Trump and Fauci at a daily White House coronavirus briefing when Trump stepped in and prevented Fauci from answering a question about hydroxychloroquine. That came after a reported heated disagreement in the Situation Room over the efficacy of the drug. Trump's top trade adviser, Peter Navarro, reportedly feuded with mother officials over the drug's unproven effectiveness to treat coronavirus. As medical experts explained to Trump that there is a risk in touting hydroxychloroquine in case it doesn't ultimately work to combat the coronavirus, Navarro and other aides sided with Trump.
Navarro reportedly lashed out at Fauci, a person familiar with the meeting told CNN last week. Navarro had brought a stack of paperwork about the drug with him into the Situation Room, arguing that it was proof that it could work to treat COVID-19, which Fauci disagreed with because it was not data. "What are you talking about?" Fauci reportedly asked, setting Navarro off. He reportedly became indignant. Several aides later said they were unfazed by Navarro's outburst, saying he has them regularly. But the argument could illustrate a deep division between the task force's response to the pandemic.
As of Monday morning, there have been 1,860,011 confirmed cases of coronavirus worldwide — with 114,983 deaths — according to data gathered by Johns Hopkins University. The United States has surpassed every country with the most confirmed cases reported by hospitals and the government, at 557,590, and over the weekend surpassed Italy in number of deaths, with 22,109.