Fauci Describes 'Complicated' Relationship With Trump

New memoir looks back at time of 'profound divisiveness'
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 19, 2024 6:45 PM CDT
Fauci Describes 'Complicated' Relationship With Trump
Dr. Anthony Fauci, then-director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, testifies during a hearing in Washington, Sept. 14, 2022.   (AP Photo/Cliff Owen, File)

Dr. Anthony Fauci has released a memoir of his decades of public service—including his relationship with then-President Donald Trump during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some highlights from interviews about On Call: A Doctor's Journey in Public Service:

  • A "very complicated figure." Trump is a "very complicated figure. We had a very interesting relationship," Fauci tells NPR. "I don't know whether it was the fact that he recognized me as kind of a fellow New Yorker, but he always felt that he wanted to maintain a good relationship with me." He says Trump would become angry at COVID updates and say he needed to be "more positive," but afterward, he "would always say, "We're OK, aren't we? I mean, we're good."

  • A fixation on ratings. Fauci says that in one meeting, Trump talked about the "amazing" ratings COVID press briefings were getting. "The president—it's no secret. I'm not divulging a secret about the president—he was very, very fixated on image and ratings," he tells CNN. "And he thought that the amount of attention that was given to the press briefings was really terrific. And his comment was, 'Wow, do you see those ratings?' And my feeling was, 'The ratings are in the middle of a pandemic.'"
  • A time of "profound divisiveness." "One of the several unfortunate aspects of the outbreak was that it occurred at a time of profound divisiveness in our society," Fauci tells USA Today. "You have people who are getting vaccinated or not based on political ideology. They're wearing a mask or not based on political ideology." Looking back, he says, "we should have emphasized a bit more the uncertainty" on public health advice.

  • He's still worried somebody might kill him. Fauci tells USA Today that his situation is "surrealistic." "Go back years when I was in medical school, did I ever think that I would be in a situation where millions and millions of people love me for what I've done, saving millions of lives ... and yet have some people who actually want to kill me?" He says he feels safe, "but I still think deep down that there's a possibility that somebody's going to kill me."
  • Personally treating Ebola patients. Fauci led the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health for 38 years. His book also covers his experiences with diseases including AIDS and Ebola. He personally treated two Ebola patients in 2014. "I felt that if I was going to ask my staff to put themselves at risk in taking care of people," he tells NPR, "I wanted to do it myself. I just felt I had to do that."
In the book, Fauci describes clashes with Trump over issues including masking and vaccines, the Washington Post reports. He says that on one occasion in June 2020, Trump called him in a rage, saying he had "cost the country one trillion f---ing dollars" in a stock market drop after he said booster shots might be needed after a vaccine was developed. Trump's "tendency to announce that he loved me and then scream at me on the phone—well, let's just say that I found this to be out of the ordinary," Fauci writes. (More Anthony Fauci stories.)

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