Trump criticizes Fauci amid disagreement over campaign ad

President TrumpDonald John TrumpTwo ethics groups call on House to begin impeachment inquiry against Barr Trump relishes return to large rallies following COVID-19 diagnosis McGrath: McConnell ‘can’t get it done’ on COVID-19 relief MORE on Tuesday mocked the top U.S. infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony FauciAnthony FauciTrump relishes return to large rallies following COVID-19 diagnosis Doctors urge Michigan stations to stop running Trump ad quoting Fauci Fauci tensions with Trump escalate over campaign ad MORE, suggesting his “prognostications” about the coronavirus have been inaccurate, amid a standoff between the doctor and the president’s reelection campaign.

“Actually, Tony’s pitching arm is far more accurate than his prognostications,” Trump tweeted, referencing Fauci’s wild first pitch at the Washington Nationals season opening in July.

The president also appeared to attribute a quote to Fauci that he never said publicly, describing how he and other health officials changed their position on mask usage early in the pandemic.

“ ‘No problem, no masks,’ ” Trump tweeted. 

“WHO no longer likes Lockdowns – just came out against. Trump was right. We saved 2,000,000 USA lives!!!” Trump continued. 

Trump’s comments about Fauci come amid a disagreement between the health expert and the Trump campaign over the latter’s use of a clip of Fauci in a new advertisement.

The 30-second ad, unveiled last week, was released after Trump was discharged from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and seeks to paint a rosy picture of the Trump administration’s response to the virus that has killed over 210,000 Americans.

It includes clips of Trump spliced with a clip of a Fauci, a member of the White House coronavirus task force, during which he says, “I can’t imagine that anybody could be doing more.”

Fauci said over the weekend that his remarks were taken out of context and that he did not consent to being featured in the ad. On Monday, he called on the campaign to take the advertisement down.

Fauci’s remarks were taken from a March Fox News interview in which he characterized the response of the task force in positive terms. The Trump campaign has defended its use of the clip, saying the words were Fauci’s own, and have shown no sign of taking it down.

“These are Dr. Fauci’s own words. The video is from a nationally broadcast television interview in which Dr. Fauci was praising the work of the Trump Administration,” Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh said in a statement Monday.

“The words spoken are accurate, and directly from Dr. Fauci’s mouth. As Dr. Fauci recently testified in the Senate, President Trump took the virus seriously from the beginning, acted quickly, and saved lives,” Murtaugh continued.

Trump in his tweet on Tuesday did not mention the squabble, but the president shared another tweet quoting Fauci’s statement pushing back on his inclusion in the ad.

Trump and Fauci had a genial relationship at the beginning of the pandemic that has seemed to erode sharply in recent months. Fauci has not been shy to contradict Trump’s statements about the virus, making him a frequent target for public criticism from Trump’s allies. 

As Trump returned to his large campaign rallies on Monday after his own coronavirus diagnosis, Fauci warned in a CNN interview that such large rallies were “asking for trouble” as coronavirus cases rise across the United States.

The president has repeatedly diverged with his top health experts on assessments about the threat posed by the virus, the speed with which a vaccine will be available to the American public, and the efficacy of mask usage. Polls show that most Americans do not trust Trump’s statements about COVID-19.

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