Hours after bragging about his persistent refusal to listen to scientists when it comes to fighting the deadly coronavirus pandemic, President Donald Trump on Monday lashed out at Dr. Anthony Fauci and other public health officials, saying during a call with his campaign staff that "people are tired of hearing Fauci and all these idiots."
"People are tired of Covid. People are saying, 'Whatever, just leave us alone,'" Trump said of a virus that has killed more than 219,000 Americans and is still spreading at an alarming rate across the United States. "He's been here for, like, 500 years. He's like this wonderful sage telling us how—Fauci, if we listened to him, we'd have 700,000 [or] 800,000 deaths."
"If there's a reporter on, you can have it just the way I said it, I couldn't care less," the president added, addressing members of the press on the call.
Trump's comments came after the airing Sunday night of Fauci's interview on CBS' "60 Minutes," during which the nation's top infectious disease expert rejected the president's rosy depiction of the current state of the pandemic and said the White House has been restricting his ability to speak to the press about the pandemic.
"When you have a million deaths and over 30 million infections globally, you can not say that we're on the road to essentially getting out of this," Fauci said, an assessment that directly contradicts Trump's recent claim that the U.S. is "rounding the turn."
Fauci also once again voiced his displeasure with the Trump campaign's decision to pluck some of his comments about the Covid-19 crisis out of context and place them in a campaign ad, making it appear as if Fauci was praising the president's handling of the pandemic.
"I do not and nor will I ever, publicly endorse any political candidate. And here I am, they're sticking me right in the middle of a campaign ad," Fauci said of the spot, which is still running in battleground states. "I got really ticked off."