TRUMP "You know Biden wants to lock it down. He wants to listen to Dr. Fauci. He wants to listen to Dr. Fauci..."
With just over two weeks to go before the election, President Trump spent much of Monday attacking and at times mocking the nation's top infectious disease expert.
TRUMP "And don't forget Dr Fauci, what he said is, no don't close it to China..."
It began during a conference call with campaign staff, when Trump blasted coronavirus expert Dr. Anthony Fauci as a "disaster."
The 79-year-old Fauci is one of the most respected scientists in the United States and has served for decades under Republican and Democratic presidents.
But midway through a call intended to buck up his national team of campaign workers, Trump lashed out at Fauci, saying "Fauci is a disaster. If I listened to him, we'd have 500,000 deaths."
Trump, whose rallies include many supporters not wearing masks and standing shoulder to shoulder, also said Americans were fed up with pandemic restrictions, and that, "People are saying, 'Whatever. Just leave us alone.' They're tired of it. People are tired of hearing Fauci and all these idiots..."
The president's tirade came hours after a 60 Minutes interview where Fauci said he was not surprised that Trump himself contracted the virus, given his lax attitude on mask-wearing and social distancing.
On the call, Trump suggested he had avoided firing Fauci because of the negative blowback he would receive.
TRUMP: "Sometimes he says things that are off...he's had a lotta bad calls."
Later in the day, Trump continued to attack him, and even took to Twitter to, among other things, make fun of the doctor's first pitch at a recent Nationals game, writing that Fauci should stop wearing his trademark Nationals face mask because "it keeps reminding me that Tony threw out perhaps the worst first pitch in the history of Baseball!"
TRUMP: "He's a wonderful guy. I like him...he's just happens to have a very bad arm....he has a bad arm. But he's a good guy."