Trump threatens to fire Fauci in widening COVID-19 rift

President Donald Trump is suggesting that he will fire Dr Anthony Fauci after Tuesday’s election, as his rift with the nation’s top infectious disease expert widens while the United States sees its most alarming outbreak of the coronavirus.

Speaking at a campaign rally in Opa-locka, Florida, Trump expressed frustration that the surging cases of the virus that has killed more than 231,000 people in the US this year remain prominent in the news, sparking chants of “Fire Fauci” from his supporters.“Don’t tell anybody but let me wait until a little bit after the election,” Trump replied to thousands of supporters early on Monday, adding he appreciated their “advice”.

As he prepared to fly to a campaign stop in Ohio hours later, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden tweeted, “We need a president who actually listens to experts like Dr. Fauci.”

Biden has sought to keep the presidential campaign focused on what he says was a disastrous federal response to the pandemic. Trump is countering by using the race’s final hours to accuse his opponent of wanting to force the country back into a lockdown to slow the spread of the virus.

Still, Trump’s comments on Fauci less than 48 hours before polls close likely ensure the pandemic will remain front and centre heading into election day.

It is the most direct Trump has been in suggesting he was serious about trying to remove Fauci from his position. He has previously expressed that he was concerned about the political blowback of removing the popular and respected doctor before the election.The latest flare-up follows Fauci’s sharpest criticism yet of the White House’s response to the coronavirus and Trump’s public assertion that the country is “rounding the turn”.

Fauci has grown outspoken that Trump has ignored his advice for containing the virus, saying he has not spoken with Trump in more than a month. He has raised an alarm that the nation was heading for a challenging winter if more is not done soon to slow the spread of the disease.

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