Trump said he 'listened' to Fauci on how to handle the coronavirus pandemic but 'didn't do what he said'

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donald trump
President Donald Trump at the White House on November 20. Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images
  • Former President Donald Trump said he ignored Dr. Anthony Fauci's advice on handling the pandemic.

  • "I listened to him, but I didn't do what he said," Trump said in a new podcast interview.

  • Trump and Fauci often disagreed over the administration's response to the outbreak.

  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Former President Donald Trump on Monday spoke candidly about his time working with Dr. Anthony Fauci, the US's leading infectious-disease expert who served on Trump's White House coronavirus task force.

"I thought rather than firing him, you know, I listened to him, but I didn't do what he said because frankly his record is not a good record," Trump said on "The Truth with Lisa Boothe" podcast.

"I didn't really elevate him," Trump added. "He's been there for 40 years - he's been there for forever."

Trump and Fauci often disagreed over the administration's response to the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly in the early days of the outbreak when knowledge about the coronavirus was limited. During the podcast, Trump slammed Fauci for criticizing travel restrictions and for inconsistent messaging about wearing masks.

"Fauci's been so wrong," Trump told Boothe. "Very importantly, he didn't want to have China stopped from coming in. If we would've done that, we would've had hundreds of thousands of more deaths in our country."

Fauci was initially hesitant about restricting travel from China last January but later supported Trump's attempt to control travel from the coronavirus hot spot. Fauci had also cautioned against wearing masks in February and March, given their limited availability for doctors, nurses, and other frontline health workers who urgently needed them. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on April 3 began recommending that Americans wear face coverings.

As the pandemic progressed, Trump preferred to leave most of the decision-making up to states, while Fauci pushed for a more hands-on approach from the federal government. Their awkward relationship would often seep into White House coronavirus briefings, as Fauci on one occasion notably covered his face with his palm while Trump went on a tangent about the "Deep State Department."

"I like him personally - he's actually a nice guy," Trump said on the podcast. "He's a great promoter. He's really a promoter more than anything else."

Fauci, the longtime director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases who now also works as President Joe Biden's chief medical advisor, has previously opened up about his challenges with Trump. Fauci told The Daily Telegraph in February that his "influence" over Trump had tapered off by late spring of 2020, when he said the president became focused on reopening the economy and his reelection effort.

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