Former President Trump in an interview released Monday labeled the nation’s top infectious diseases expert, Anthony Fauci, “a promoter more than anything” after the two sometimes clashed on the nation’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I thought rather than firing him, you know, I listened to him, but I didn’t do what he said because, frankly, his record is not a good record,” Trump told the podcast “The Truth with Lisa Boothe.”
“I like him personally,” Trump continued. “He’s actually a nice guy. He’s a great promoter. He’s really a promoter more than anything else.”
When asked if he regretted “elevating” Fauci, Trump said, “Well, I didn’t really elevate him. He’s been there for 40 years. He’s been there forever.”
But Trump said Fauci has been “wrong so much” on COVID-19 recommendations, citing his early advice against masks that aligned with other experts at the time over a concern that there would not be enough protective equipment for health care workers.
The former president also reiterated criticisms against Fauci for initially speaking out against the travel restrictions on China last year. Trump said that there would have been “hundreds of thousands of more deaths” without the measure.
A week after suggesting the restrictions might not be best, Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, expressed support for the measure. He later acknowledged the ban on travel bought the U.S. some time but did not halt the virus.
“Fauci has been so wrong. So has Birx, they’ve been so wrong,” Trump said, referring to his former White House coronavirus response coordinator Deborah Birx.
“And if I would’ve listened to them?” he continued. “And then they went to the other extreme, like the entire country should lock up. I didn’t go for that. And you know, it just wasn’t for me. I didn’t go for that.”
Trump during the interview applauded governors who allowed their states to remain open or reopen amid the pandemic, adding that those who shut down more activity did “really terribly” and “ruined their economies.”
After last year’s presidential election, the Biden administration asked Fauci to stay on as chief medical adviser, which the infectious diseases expert said he accepted “right on the spot.”
In recent weeks, Fauci has called on the former president to instruct his supporters to get the vaccine, as Republicans remain a key demographic that is skeptical of the inoculations. Trump did tell people at the Conservative Political Action Conference to get immunized, which Fauci praised. During an appearance on Fox News earlier this month, Trump again urged his supporters to get vaccinated.
Via The Hill