“People are tired of hearing Fauci and all these idiots,” Trump said on a call with campaign staff monitored by CNN. “Fauci is a nice guy. He’s been here for 500 years.”
The President added that people were tired of the coronavirus and wanted to be left alone and told any reporters listening to the call to run with the quote.
“Fauci is a disaster. If I listened to him, we’d have 500,000 deaths,” Trump baselessly claimed, before later saying the death toll would be 700,000 or 800,000. The President has consistently undercut public health measures recommended by Fauci and other top government experts intended to break the chain of infection.
‘Cloth coverings work’
“Let’s see if we could put this to rest once and for all,” Fauci said. “Cloth coverings work,” he said, explaining how his view had changed after his initial statements in the early days of the emergency that mask wearing was not necessary.
“Meta analysis studies show that, contrary to what we thought, masks really do work in preventing infection,” Fauci said. “When you find out you’re wrong, it’s a manifestation of your honesty to say, ‘Hey, I was wrong. I did subsequent experiments and now it’s this way.'”
Campaigning in Nevada on Sunday night, the President complained that he is always criticized for packed rallies with little social distancing in Covid-19 hot zones where few people wear masks. He pointed to the crowd behind his camera shot, which did include people with “Make America Great Again” face coverings. But the majority of people in his big crowds out of camera shot rarely take such precautions.
“They’re always complaining, ‘I don’t see masks.’ I mean there are a lot of masks on,” Trump said.
“Please just give us a bit more time of your individual, responsible behavior of washing your hands, watch your distance, wear your face coverings when you can’t watch your distance,” Azar said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
“The other night, Trump said at one of his rallies ‘we have turned the corner.’ My grandfather would say this guy has gone around the bend if he thinks we have turned the corner,” Biden told supporters in the battleground state of North Carolina.
“Turned the corner? It’s getting worse, he continues to lie to us about the circumstances.”
Michigan governor condemns Trump’s ‘disturbing’ rhetoric
The President was at his most inflammatory this weekend during a rally Saturday night in Muskegon, Michigan, a state where he pulled off a shock victory in 2016 but where he appears to be trailing Biden four years later.
He slammed Whitmer, whom he previously accused of being a “dictator” for her efforts to quell the coronavirus, insisting she had kept her state locked down even though the state’s stay-at-home order has been lifted and many businesses are open with social distancing regulations in place. Trump did nothing as his crowd chanted “Lock her up” barely a week after federal authorities revealed a plot by extremists to kidnap the Democratic governor.
Speaking on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Lara Trump, the President’s daughter-in-law, who serves as a senior campaign official, dismissed the idea that Trump was inciting more extremist behavior toward Whitmer.
“Well, look, he wasn’t doing anything, I don’t think, to provoke people to threaten this woman at all,” she said, referring to Whitmer. “He was having fun at a Trump rally.”
The Michigan governor forcibly condemned the President’s latest rhetoric.
“You know, it’s incredibly disturbing that the President of the United States, 10 days after a plot to kidnap, put me on trial and execute me, 10 days after that was uncovered, the President is at it again and inspiring and incentivizing and inciting this kind of domestic terrorism,” Whitmer said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
“It is wrong. It’s got to end. It is dangerous, not just for me and my family, but for public servants everywhere who are doing their jobs and trying to protect their fellow Americans.”
The President also used his weekend to raise new questions about the fairness of the election as national polls and swing state surveys show him well behind the former Democratic vice president.
Trump, without credible evidence, warned his voters in Michigan that the election may not be fair and took a shot at NBC’s Kristen Welker, the moderator of Thursday night’s debate in Nashville, Tennessee, for what will be his second and final clash with Biden, following the cancellation of a previously scheduled debate after a chain of events set off by the President’s diagnosis with Covid-19.
CNN’s Kaitlan Collins contributed to this report.