Donald Trump spent his Easter weekend predictably sullen and angry, and one of his targets was one of the people most trusted by Americans in the coronavirus crisis: Dr. Anthony Fauci, the longtime director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
Speaking to CNN’s Jake Tapper on Sunday, Fauci admitted that the slow response to coronavirus cost lives, saying “I mean, obviously. You could logically say that if you had a process that was ongoing and you started mitigation earlier, you could have saved lives. Obviously, no one is going to deny that.” Who would have had to start mitigation earlier? Donald Trump would be high on that list, and we know how Trump feels about being criticized. So when a hilariously failed Republican congressional candidate tweeted #FireFauci, Trump retweeted her.
The White House tries to pretend Trump didn’t RT what he very clearly RT’d, with some typical crap about “media chatter.” The statement from Hogan Gidley ends with the claim that “Dr. Fauci has been and remains a trusted advisor to President Trump,” which is of course no guarantee of anything.
“Fauci is now saying that had Trump listened to the medical experts earlier he could've saved more lives,” former Nancy Pelosi challenger DeAnna Lorraine tweeted. “Fauci was telling people on February 29th that there was nothing to worry about and it posed no threat to the US public at large. Time to #FireFauci...” Trump retweeted that message, adding “Sorry Fake News, it’s all on tape. I banned China long before people spoke up. Thank you @OANN.”
Of course, Fauci wasn’t talking about Trump’s decision to “ban China”—he was talking about the fact that Trump should have done more in those early days to stop the spread of the disease. If “banning China” (really banning travel by foreign nationals from China, while allowing 40,000 people to enter the U.S. from China) bought the U.S. any time to fight the pandemic, Trump then squandered that time, claiming that there was no problem. And despite the ample evidence—more than 555,000 cases and 22,000 deaths worth of evidence—that “banning China” did not stop the virus in the U.S., Trump continues to point to that one act as showing that he Did Something. So having Fauci on TV acknowledging that more should have been done is definitely not going to make him happy.
Fauci’s comments landed in the middle of a weekend Trump spent on the phone with the so-called friends and informal advisers whose advice so frequently bolsters his terrible decisions, as well as rage-tweeting things like “#FireFauci” and attacks on the media. Three sources told the Daily Beast’s Asawin Suebsaeng that Trump repeatedly asked people “What do you think of Fauci?” and told one person that he’d made Fauci a “star” by including him in press briefings.
It’s always all about Donald Trump, even with 22,000 people dead—a number that will surely have risen by the end of the day. It’s about his personal grievances, his ego, his refusal to admit that he could have done anything wrong. And that’s why we are where we are.