President Donald Trump, speaking at a campaign rally in Opa-Locka, Florida, has suggested that he might fire Dr. Anthony Fauci after Tuesday's election, as the rift with the nation's top infectious disease expert widens, and the country plunges into its most alarming outbreak of the disease so far.
The US May Not Return to Normal Until End of 2021 or Into 2022
This came out as he expressed his frustration that the surging cases of coronavirus that have taken the lives of over 230 thousand Americans remain a dominant news item, a statement that sparked chants of "Fire Fauci" from the crowd. Trump’s comments on Fauci less than 48 hours before polls close is likely to ensure the pandemic will remain front and center as election day approaches.
Shortly afterward, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden tweeted, “We need a president who actually listens to experts like Dr. Fauci.” Biden is trying to focus on the two conflicting views in the presidential debate on the disastrous federal response to the pandemic. At the same time, Trump resorts to accusing his opponent of forcing the country into a lockdown that will slow the spread of the virus while hurting the economy.
This confrontation seems to stem from Fauci's direct criticism of the White House's response to the pandemic and Trump's public assertions that the country is "rounding the turn." Fauci has increased the tone of these criticisms as he raised the alarm that the nation was heading for a challenging winter if more is not done soon to contain the virus's spread.
Trump had already stepped up his attacks on Biden in recent days for pledging to heed scientists' advice in responding to the pandemic. As Trump charges that Biden’s measures to
slow the pandemic could keep Americans home and hurt the economy, the former vice president has countered that the only way out of the health crisis is to heed the warnings of Fauci and other medical professionals. Biden has also been careful not to endorse another national lockdown.
In September, a Kaiser Family Foundation poll showed 68 percent of Americans have a great deal or a fair amount of trust in Fauci to provide reliable information on the coronavirus. Although Trump could order officials at HHS to fire Fauci, it would have to be for misconduct or poor performance, and disagreeing with the president is unlikely to qualify as such.