Despite President Donald Trump dropping hints that he wanted to fire him, Dr. Anthony Fauci said Monday he has no plans to leave as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
“I have no intention of leaving,” Fauci, a member of the White House coronavirus task force, told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. “This is an important job. I’ve been doing it now for a very long time. I’ve been doing it under six presidents. It’s an important job, and my goal is to serve the American public no matter what the administration is.”
Fauci has publicly corrected Trump, who lost his bid for reelection last week, repeatedly throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, which the president has downplayed since it first broke out. As their divide in messaging grew wider, Trump appeared eager to push him out. At a Trump campaign rally last week in Florida, where attendees chanted “Fire Fauci! Fire Fauci!” Trump said, “Let me wait until a little bit after the election.”
In reality, Trump doesn’t have the power to fire Fauci, who is not a political appointee. He has been director of the institute, part of the National Institutes of Health, since 1984, and his dismissal would have to originate with someone in his department. The process is much more complicated than Trump announcing on Twitter that he’s firing him.
Fauci also told Blitzer that he hasn’t spoken with Trump since the president was hospitalized for COVID-19 over a month ago. He also said he’s very optimistic about the team President-elect Joe Biden is assembling to deal with the pandemic and believes they’re all highly qualified.
Fauci added that Monday’s reports of a successful Pfizer vaccine trial has him hopeful about immunizing people soon.
“We would be giving the vaccine to people very likely before the end of this year,” he predicted. “That is good news.”
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