Trump dismisses pandemic, rips Fauci as 'disaster' in campaign all-staff call

He called the infectious disease expert and other top scientists "idiots."

October 19, 2020, 12:29 PM

In a remarkable move with 15 days to go until Election Day, President Donald Trump on an all-staff campaign call Monday morning leveled his most aggressive attacks yet on Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert on the president’s own coronavirus task force, calling him a “disaster” while also outright dismissing the pandemic, saying Americans are “over COVID” as deaths near 220,000 in the United States and cases rise around the country.

"People are tired of COVID. Yep, there's gonna be spikes, there's gonna be no spikes, there's gonna be vaccines—with or without vaccines, people are tired of COVID," thepresident said on the call, seemingly annoyed to even talk about the ongoing pandemic.

PHOTO: President Donald Trump throw face masks into the crowd as he arrives for a campaign rally at Orlando Sanford International Airport, Oct. 12, 2020, in Sanford, Fla.
President Donald Trump throw face masks into the crowd as he arrives for a campaign rally at Orlando Sanford International Airport, Oct. 12, 2020, in Sanford, Fla.
Evan Vucci/AP

Trump then pointed to his packed rallies as evidence that "people" are saying "whatever" regrading the pandemic that’s still ravaging the country. "I have the biggest rallies I've ever had and we have COVID. People are saying whatever, just leave us alone. They're tired of it," he said.

Trump then turned to his fire to medical experts, blasting Fauci in some of his harshest language yet, even openly seemingly disappointed that he can’t fire him because, he said, it would be a bigger "bomb."

"People are tired of hearing Fauci and all these idiots -- these, these people, these people that have gotten it wrong," Trump said.

PHOTO: Dr. Fauci appears on "Good Morning America," Oct. 15, 2020.
Dr. Fauci appears on "Good Morning America," Oct. 15, 2020.
ABC News

Seemingly in response to recent critical interviews that Fauci has given, Trump went on to mischaracterize the expert’s record on the pandemic, blasting him asa disaster and claiming if he listened to Fauci "we'd have 500,000 deaths."

"Fauci, he's a nice guy, he's been here for 500 years. He called every one of them wrong. And he's like this wonderful guy, a wonderful sage telling us how ... He said, 'Do not wear face masks,' and the number of months ago. He said do not close it up to China. Don't —I have a list of 15 things, this guy, and yet, we keep him. Every time he goes on television, there's always a bomb. But there's a bigger bomb if you fire him. But Fauci's a disaster, I mean this guy, if I listened to him we'd have 500,000 deaths," Trump said.

After hammering Fauci, Trump, who seemed aware some reporters were asked to join the call, said, "If there’s a reporter on, you can have it just the way I said it, I couldn't care less."

The president also railed at what he called "fake news" reports detailing issues behind the scene both at the White House and his campaign, urging his team not to read the stories and that they are "suppression polls and suppression stories."

"[The media] are always writing these stories about conflict. Oh, by the way, my relationship with Bill Stepien and Jason [Miller] and Ronna [McDaniel] is phenomenal," the president said of the top officials leading his reelection effort.

"There was a story today that I don't get along with Mark Meadows, that I'm disappointed. I love Mark Meadows -- he's the best thing that's happened. The guy is fantastic, he works, 25—it's so horrible that they would put that in a story ... I have tremendous confidence," Trump said.

"I love Mark Meadows, and Mark Meadows is doing a great job," he added.

Trump also looked to reassure, amid sagging poll numbers and fundraising struggles, that he’s confident he will win in November. "This is the best day we ever had, I just want to project that to you," Trump told campaign staff.

This report was featured in the Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2020, episode of “Start Here,” ABC News’ daily news podcast.

"Start Here" offers a straightforward look at the day's top stories in 20 minutes. Listen for free every weekday on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, the ABC News app or wherever you get your podcasts.

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