President Trump on Monday slammed NIAID Director Anthony Fauci, telling staffers on a campaign phone call that the American people are tired of listening to his misleading advice on coronavirus.
“People are saying, ‘Whatever. Just leave us alone,’” the president said during a campaign call, according to CNN reporter Kaitlan Collins.
“People are tired of hearing Fauci and these idiots, all these idiots who got it wrong, ” the president said, going on to remark on the government position Fauci’s held since 1984.
“Fauci is a nice guy. He’s been here for 500 years.”
The president also acknowledged the backlash he could face if he fired Fauci.
“There’s always a bomb every time he comes on television, but there’s a bigger bomb when you fire him. This guy’s a disaster,” Trump said, according to The New York Times.
The president went on to say Fauci’s advice could have led to more deaths related to COVID-19 in the United States.
“Fauci is a disaster. If I listened to him, we’d have 500,000 deaths,” later raising the prospective death toll to 700,000 and 800,000.
“If there’s a reporter on, you can have it just the way I said it, I couldn’t care less,” the president added, acknowledging journalists listening in on the conversation.
The president also complained about the lack of sourcing from The New York Times, saying it’d been years since the paper reached out to him for comment, before adding, “But our people don’t read The New York Times. They couldn’t give a shit about it.”
Elsewhere in the phone call, the president offered a glimmer of hope for his re-election campaign, saying he’s optimistic about a victory in November.
“We are going to win. I wouldn’t have told you that maybe two or three weeks ago,” he said.
Trump is scheduled to face off with former Vice President Joe Biden in a final debate to be hosted on October 22 at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee.
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