On Sunday, November 1, Trump held a COVID-19 restriction defying rally in Opa-Locka, Florida. When the crowd broke out into a chant akin to “lock her up,” the common 2016 chant aimed towards then-political opponent Hillary Clinton, Trump did nothing to stop them. While sometimes Trump rally crowds still chant to “lock her up,” the more modern, 2020 version of that refrain appears to now be “Fire Fauci,” referring to Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. And, when the crowd broke out in the chant, Trump said something quite sinister in response.
“Don’t tell anybody, but let me wait until a little bit after the election,” Trump said. He then added: “I appreciate the advice.” He topped off the jaw-dropping and norm-defying moment by doubling down on his oft-repeated claim that Dr. Fauci has bungled the pandemic response. In reality, Fauci has served to be a dose of real-world logic — their most recent public disagreement was about a safe and effective vaccine timeline — to Trump’s lack of meaningful response to COVID-19.
The claims are inaccurate and also dubious. It’s not clear if Trump could even fire Dr. Fauci, who is not a political appointee and is a civil servant in a department that isn’t appointed or staffed by Presidential approval. Even then, Dr. Fauci clearly has no intention of leaving, even if he were pushed out by the President, saying in an earlier interview with The Daily Beast that “not in my wildest freakin’ dreams did I ever think about quitting.”
But the claims are a clear and present threat to American families. As the pandemic stretches on, and cases soar at rates not seen since the heat of the pandemic in the summer, the upcoming winter season looks like a particularly dire time for COVID-19 and America. If the president were to “fire” the head of one of the arms of the pandemic response fighting team, that could send a clear message to families that he doesn’t care about solving the pandemic and he likely never will. The COVID-19 crisis is one that appears to be as far from being solved as it was when the disease first emerged in March. That there’s no end in sight reveals a failure to help American families.