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White House Says Trump 'Is Not Firing Dr. Fauci'

Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Anthony Fauci looks on during the daily briefing on the coronavirus in the White House briefing room on April 1.
Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Anthony Fauci looks on during the daily briefing on the coronavirus in the White House briefing room on April 1.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top immunologist who has been helping steer President Trump's pandemic policy, doesn't appear in immediate danger of being fired.

The White House rejected what it called speculation about that prospect even though President Trump retweeted a tweet on Sunday that included the hashtag #FireFauci.

"This media chatter is ridiculous – President Trump is not firing Dr. Fauci," White House spokesman Hogan Gidley said in a statement on Monday.

Gidley said Trump's tweet was an attempt to deflate a narrative that Trump had acted too slowly in response to the pandemic. "Dr. Fauci has been and remains a trusted advisor to President Trump," he added.

Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, is also a member of the White House coronavirus task force and a regular feature in regular briefings from the administration.

Trump and Fauci have mostly presented a united front but sometimes differed over the course of the disaster response, including about how quickly certain medications could be approved to help COVID-19 sufferers.

Over the weekend, Fauci was asked whether the administration could have saved more lives with earlier action on stay-at-home and social distancing efforts.

"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," Fauci told CNN's Jake Tapper.

"Obviously, no one is going to deny that. But what goes into those decisions is complicated," he added. "But you're right, I mean, obviously, if we had right from the very beginning shut everything down, it may have been a little bit different. But there was a lot of pushback about shutting things down back then."

Some conservative commentators have targeted both Fauci and another top White House medical adviser, Dr. Deborah Birx, linking them with criticism of Trump or Democrats.

Trump has endorsed both physicians and said he continues to rely on their counsel in managing policy for the disaster.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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