In recent months, Fauci has become one of the most widely recognized and respected faces of the federal government’s management of the novel coronavirus. His even-keeled, data-focused response to the pandemic has even fostered an ardent fan base, with calls for the 79-year-old immunologist to be named People magazine’s “Sexiest Man Alive” or awarded a Nobel Prize.
But Fauci’s advocacy of federal social distancing guidance and willingness to openly contradict the president on matters such as coronavirus testing and potential treatments have sparked intense criticism from some of Trump’s supporters, as well as speculation about his standing in the White House.
The president sought to signal unity with Fauci in late March after a series of interviews, news reports and conspicuous absences hinted at heightened frustration with the career public health official. Questions regarding his job security further intensified on April 12 after Trump shared a tweet arguing it was “Time to #FireFauci.”
Defending his decision to promote the message, Trump told reporters at a White House coronavirus news conference that Fauci is “terrific,” but “not everybody’s happy with Anthony. Not everybody’s happy with — everybody.” The president also dismissed the controversial tweet as “somebody’s opinion.”
Calls to oust Fauci resurfaced Saturday during a demonstration in Austin, Texas, against stringent mitigation measures meant to curb the spread of the coroanvirus. “Fire Fauci!” the protesters cheered.
The rally was one of several organized by conservative groups in which thousands of participants marched in state capitals across the nation in defiance of stay-at-home orders issued by governors.