Trump dismisses COVID-19, calls US top health experts ‘idiots’

On a call Monday, President Donald Trump was critical of Dr. Anthony Fauci and other medical experts, saying that “Fauci’s a disaster” and “if I listened to him, we’d have 500,000 deaths.”
4:12 | 10/19/20

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Transcript for Trump dismisses COVID-19, calls US top health experts ‘idiots’
Just 15 days until election day. Nearly 30 million Americans have already voted now, shattering early voting numbers from four years ago. Tonight, the president going on the attack against Dr. Anthony Fauci as this country marks 55,000 new cases of coronavirus a day. Dr. Fauci has repeatedly said we needed to be at about 10,000 a day as we head into fall if we want to avoid a very difficult second wave. President trump in a sprint to the finish now. Two rallies today in Arizona. And making news while on a campaign conference call, too, calling Dr. Anthony Fauci a disaster and going after Joe Biden after Biden has repeatedly said he would trust the scientists. The attack comes less than 24 hours after Dr. Fauci was on "60 minutes" saying he was not surprised that the president got covid when he saw those images from the rose garden. And tonight, the new images of Dr. Fauci on a walk with his wife with federal protection now because of threats. And so, we begin with ABC's chief white house correspondent Jonathan Karl. Reporter: President trump unleashed a bizarre new line of attack against Joe Biden today, slamming him for saying he would listen to Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's leading expert on coronavirus. He wants to listen to Dr. Fauci. He wants to listen to Dr. Fauci. Reporter: Polls have consistently shown Dr. Fauci is far more trusted than the president, or anybody else for that matter, when it comes to handling covid-19, which is why trump put him in a campaign ad, over Fauci's objections. But today, the president unloaded in a conference call with his campaign staff. People are tired of hearing Fauci and all these idiots these -- these people. These people that have gotten it wrong. He's a nice guy. He's been here for 500 years. He called every one of them wrong. 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. Reporter: Trump's attacks come a day after Dr. Fauci told "60 minutes" he wasn't surprised that the president got sick himself, especially after watching the maskless crowd assembled in the rose garden as he announced Amy coney Barrett as his nominee for the supreme court. Were you surprised that president trump got sick? Absolutely not. I said, "Oh my goodness. Nothing good can come out of that. That's got to be a problem." And then sure enough it turned out to be a superspreader event. Reporter: Dr. Fauci also expressed exasperation with the president's conflicting statements on wearing masks. He sometimes equates wearing a mask with weakness. Does that make sense to you? No, it doesn't. Of course not. Reporter: In this highly polarized environment, Fauci and his wife Christine are now protected by federal agents. Have there been death threats against -- Yes. -- You and your family? Yes. All of you? No, just me. Mostly him. Harassment against all of us. Reporter: Today, Republican senator Lamar Alexander came to Fauci's defense, calling him quote, "One of our country's most distinguished public servants," adding, "If more Americans paid attention to his advice, we'd have fewer cases of covid-19 and it would be safer to go back to school and back to work and out to eat." But president trump doesn't buy it, mocking Fauci and mocking Biden for saying he will listen to public health experts. He'll listen to the scientists. If I listen totally to the scientists, we would right now have a country that would be in a massive depression. So, let's get right to Jon Karl, with us live from Washington tonight. And Jon, this was somewhat risky politically, attacking Dr. Fauci, two weeks to go until the election, because we have seen the polling repeatedly show that Americans overwhelmingly trust Dr. Fauci on the virus. Reporter: Risky, indeed, David. The bottom line is that the overwhelming majority of Americans trust Dr. Fauci when dealing with the virus. They actually want the president, whoever the president is, to listen to him, which may explain the Biden response to all of this, Joe Biden responded with a single word on Twitter, "Yes," as in yes, he will listen to Dr. Fauci. All right, Jon Karl helping us start another week here. Jon, thank you.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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