REPORT: Fauci at center of conservative storm after “Fire Fauci” tweet controversy

The Hill reports criticism of Anthony Fauci from the right has picked up in recent days, with some conservatives calling for President Trump to dump the infectious disease expert after he made comments about how imposing social distancing rules earlier could have slowed the spread of the novel coronavirus in the United States.

Fauci has become a national name with his regular presence at the daily coronavirus task force briefings and in other media appearances, and poll numbers show he’s trusted by a majority of Americans. It would set off a political storm if Trump were to sideline him in the middle of a pandemic.

Yet the criticism of Fauci by two conservative lawmakers in a Saturday op-ed and Trump’s retweet of a conservative’s call to “#FireFauci” were unmistakable signs that the public health official is coming under pressure from some on the right to be loyal to the president.

Tensions between Fauci and Trump have been evident at times in recent weeks. The doctor put his head in his hand at one March briefing where the president quipped about the “Deep State Department,” and Trump stepped in at a briefing this month before Fauci could give his opinion on hydroxychloroquine.

The president had publicly praised Fauci as “extraordinary” and dismissed speculation about a rift between the two, joking on Friday that Fauci is so popular he could run against Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and “win easily.” For the most part Fauci has seemed to successfully walk the line between contradicting Trump without outright criticizing him.

But Trump’s tweet on Sunday marked a shift and coincided with a fresh groundswell of conservative pushback toward the doctor as Trump comes under intense criticism for his slow response to the virus.

Some of the more pointed criticism of Fauci came after he said on CNN on Sunday that more lives could have been saved if stay-at-home measures were implemented earlier than mid-March.

The comments irked Trump allies who viewed them as revisionist history given how Fauci’s public statements evolved throughout January and February as scientists learned more about the virus and it spread through the U.S.

Jason Miller, a former Trump adviser who now hosts a radio show focused on the pandemic, said Fauci must be careful with how he talks about the crisis, but also described “finger pointing” as media chatter seeking to pull the administration apart.

“This talk of potential removal from the team is unnecessary media chatter trying to draw a divide where one doesn’t exist,” Miller said.

“I think what this is about is about the accuracy with which Dr. Fauci is communicating with both the president and the American people,” he added. “It’s critical as the lead scientist and health expert advising the president on the coronavirus pandemic that he be spot on with his details. I think the recent finger pointing and revisionist history whether intentional or accidental doesn’t help anybody.”

One source close to the administration said, while some inside would like to see Fauci gone, most recognize there is more value to keeping him on.

“I don’t sense there’s a monolithic view,” the person said. “There are some who dislike him and want him out of the [administration] but I think most recognize it’s better for him to be in the tent than outside of it.”

Fauci’s CNN remarks followed a New York Times article detailing how Trump ignored early warnings about the virus and initially resisted recommendations to implement social distancing recommendations, reporting that Trump has dismissed as “fake.”

One of Trump’s many tweets Sunday night defending his response quoted a former GOP congressional candidate who said it was “time to #FireFauci,” citing his Feb. 29 comments that there was not yet a need for Americans to alter their day-to-day lives.

Fauci has been clear that his realm of expertise is public health, and he has suggested at times that social distancing guidelines will be needed for weeks or months to limit the spread of the virus.

Others inside and outside the administration are advocating that it take steps to open up the economy soon, and emphasizing that health experts can’t be the only voices involved in the decision.

“Anthony Fauci should be deferring to the President when answering questions about timing of economic reopening,” Fox News host Laura Ingraham tweeted Sunday.

Reps. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) and Ken Buck (R-Colo.) penned an op-ed in the Washington Examiner over the weekend arguing that Fauci should not be a primary voice speaking on the coronavirus outbreak after the public health official late last month described social distancing as an “inconvenient” from societal and economic standpoint.

Per TCO, the White House has issued an official statement on the controversy started when President Trump shared a tweet with the #FireFauci hashtag.

Sunday Evening, President Trump re-tweeted a tweet that includes the message “Time to #Fire Fauci.”

DeAnna Lorraine wrote:

Fauci is now saying that had Trump listened to the medical experts earlier he could’ve saved more lives.

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

President Trump shared the tweet and added:

Sorry Fake News, it’s all on tape. I banned China long before people spoke up. Thank you @OANN

This is the conversation DeAnna Lorraine appears to be referring to.

“Obviously you could logically say that if you had a process that was ongoing and you started mitigation earlier, you could have saved lives,” Fauci said. “Obviously, no one is going to deny that. But what goes into those kinds of decisions is complicated.”

Hogan Gidley, Deputy Assistant to the President and Principal Deputy Press Secretary released the following statement:

However, that has not stopped some Trump supporters from sharing their concerns about Fauci.

John Cardillo tweeted:

Jan: Fauci told us it was no threat to Americans

Feb: Fauci told us to continue going to gyms, malls, and the movies

Mar: Fauci said going on cruises was OK

He’s been wrong every step of the way and is now blaming @realDonaldTrump for his failures.

Fauci was the one who told us and @realDonaldTrump back in January that COVID posed little to no risk to Americans.

Now he’s blaming Trump for his horribly wrong call.

DeAnna Lorraine, who is running for Congress in Nancy Pelosi’s district tweeted:

In the 2016 election cycle, Dr. Fauci’s wife donated to a presidential candidate.

It’s documented.

Can anyone guess who she donated to?

Paul Sperry tweeted:

***BREAKING NEWS*** FEC records show the wife of NIH Dr. Anthony Fauci, who’s clashed with Trump over COVID-19 strategy, is a Democrat who donated at least $1,200 to Hillary for America & Hillary Victory Fund in 2016 campaign vs. Trump. Dr. Fauci wrote 2013 email praising Hillary

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