President Donald Trump escalated his attacks on one of the nation’s top health officials, labeling Anthony Fauci a “Democrat” — but saying that he’ll keep him around.
Trump mentioned Fauci during a campaign rally today in North Carolina as he defended his response to the coronavirus pandemic, noting that the longtime director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases had initially recommended against wearing masks.
“Then you have my friend, and he’s a nice guy, Tony — Tony Fauci,” Trump said, “He’s a nice guy, so I keep him around. Right? We’ll keep him around. But he’s a Democrat, everybody knows that. He’s Cuomo’s friend,” Trump said, referring to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat.
Fauci didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment for this story.
Fauci has said public health authorities didn’t recommend masks for the public at the beginning of the outbreak because they were worried about causing shortages for health-care workers. Since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended in April that all Americans use face coverings, Fauci has been a steadfast proponent of the practice.
Trump, who announced he had contracted the coronavirus on Oct. 2 and was hospitalized for three days, hardly ever wears a mask.
The president’s campaign is airing television ads that take remarks by Fauci out of context to suggest he’s complimented Trump’s response to the pandemic. Fauci has publicly objected, saying he’s always been publicly non-partisan, and he’s urged Trump’s campaign to pull the ad. They have so far declined.
“By doing this against my will they are, in effect, harassing me,” Fauci told the Daily Beast in an interview published Monday.
Fauci last appeared in public with Trump on July 30.