Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a candidate for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination, chided former President Donald Trump for claiming he was “not allowed” to fire former White House Chief Medical Adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci, who helped craft the federal government’s COVID-19 pandemic response.
Trump, the current Republican front-runner for the nomination, discussed why he did not fire Fauci on Hugh Hewitt’s radio show on Wednesday.
“First of all, you’re not allowed,” Trump said. “He’s civil service, and you’re not allowed to fire him. But forget that, because I don’t necessarily go by everything. But Dr. Fauci would tell me things, and I wouldn’t do them in many cases. But also, he wasn’t a big player in my administration.”
Fauci enraged conservatives with his pandemic recommendations, most notably on masking and vaccinations.
DeSantis rejected Trump’s reasoning, saying Trump had changed his story on Fauci.
“It’s important to point out for a long time that was not his excuse,” DeSantis told The Rubin Report on Wednesday. “His excuse had been that if you fired Fauci, both the Democrats and the media would have pitched a fit, which, of course, is 100% true.
“But that’s the price of leadership. You got to stand up and do what’s right. Clearly, he could have been fired from the White House Task Force. There was no obligation to run him out at press conference after press conference, have him doing media interviews.”
DeSantis defied pandemic guidance from Fauci by easing restrictions and reopening Florida’s businesses before most states. DeSantis touted his administration’s handling of the pandemic during his appearance on The Rubin Report.
“During the height of the COVID stuff in 2020, Fauci would do local hits in Florida media attacking me for having schools open and some of these other stuff,” he said. “So, there was no obligation to do that. I think you could have also fired him from NIH [National Institutes of Health] because he had basically committed misconduct with the gain-of-function [research].”
Asked to respond to DeSantis’ previous criticism about his relationship with Fauci, Trump said the governor “loves Fauci” and “shut down Florida.”
“It was tight as a drum,” Trump said. “He had vax lines. He was vaxxing everything. Now, he talks about the vaccinations this and that. And let me tell you the other thing: I will send you, after this conversation, five articles about how much he loves Dr. Fauci. ‘I do what Dr. Fauci says. This is Ron DeSantimonious. I do what Dr. Fauci says.’ That’s what he says. And I’ve got the articles here. But he doesn’t like to go back.”
Trump also went on the offensive, skewering DeSantis for the number of COVID-19 deaths in Florida.
“Florida was third worst in deaths,” Trump said. “That’s a horrible statistic. But that’s a statistic that sort of counts.”
Nicole Wells ✉
Nicole Wells, a Newsmax general assignment reporter covers news, politics, and culture. She is a National Newspaper Association award-winning journalist.
© 2023 Newsmax. All rights reserved.