Former President Donald Trump says he didn’t heed the advice of Dr. Anthony Fauci in his response to the coronavirus pandemic, which has left more than 500,000 Americans dead and nearly 30 million infected, including Trump himself.
"I listened to him, but I didn't do what he said," Trump told Fox News personality Lisa Boothe on the premiere episode of her podcast, which went live Monday.
Boothe asked Trump if he regretted "elevating" Fauci — the nation's leading infectious disease expert, who rose to fame as a member of Trump's coronavirus task force — because of his refusal to back the former president's dubious claims about the virus.
"I didn't really elevate him," Trump said. "He's been there for 40 years. He's been there forever." Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), had worked under Presidents George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Trump, and is now President Biden's COVID-19 adviser.
Trump said he liked Fauci "personally" but cast him as a self-promoter.
"He's a great promoter," Trump said. "He's really a promoter more than anything else."
The former president seized on Fauci's recommendations during the early stages of the pandemic when little was known about the novel virus, which originated in Wuhan, China.
"He didn't want to have China stopped from coming in," Trump said. "If we would have done that, we would have had hundreds of thousands of more deaths in our country."
Trump has repeatedly made this claim while dinging Fauci’s credibility, but according to PolitiFact, Fauci was generally supportive of the Chinese travel ban imposed by Trump in January 2020.
In an interview with Yahoo News earlier this month, Fauci admitted, "We didn't get good eyes on what was going on until late," and suggested the United States could have been more aggressive with China but that Trump "was not interested in doing that.
"He was complimenting them on what a good job they were doing," Fauci said.
Fauci also said he became a "persona non grata" within the Trump White House for what he was saying publicly about the administration's response to the coronavirus.
"But I had to say it, because it was the truth," Fauci said.
Trump was hospitalized for three days in October after suffering complications from the virus.
“I learned so much about coronavirus,” he said in a video posted to Twitter that he filmed at the White House upon his return. “And one thing that’s for certain: Don’t let it dominate you. Don’t be afraid of it. You’re going to beat it.”
According to Johns Hopkins University, there have been more than 542,000 deaths in the United States, by far the most reported in any country in the world. There have been more than 29 million confirmed cases of COVID-19.
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