“Clearly, [Fauci] could have been fired from the [Trump] White House Task Force. There was no obligation to run him out at press conference after press conference, have him doing media interviews.”
Just before the Labor Day holiday weekend, former President Donald Trump posted a video on Truth Social responding to the “sudden fearmongering” coming from Democrats over the uptick in COVID cases along with reports of a new variant.
In the video, the 2024 GOP presidential candidate talked about what many conservatives are talking about, which is the sudden Democrat/media focus on the virus, vaccines/boosters, and masks as we head into a presidential election year.
Trump portrays himself as a champion of pushing back against mandates and lockdowns, telling the “COVID tyrants” who have already instituted some form of mask mandates and/or vaccine mandates that “we will not comply“:
‘Hear these words: We will not comply. So don’t even think about it,’ he said. ‘We will not shut down our schools. We will not accept your lockdowns. We will not abide by your mask mandates and we will not tolerate your vaccine mandates.’
COVID Tyrants want to take away our Freedom.
Hear my words— WE WILL NOT COMPLY. pic.twitter.com/Kql1YaxuO0
— Team Trump (Text TRUMP to 88022) (@TeamTrump) August 30, 2023
As readers will notice, however, the post was Community Noted to point out two things: Trump bragging in August 2020 about how his administration “turned” the economy “off” for a period of time and how it was starting to roar back:
….My Administration and I built the greatest economy in history, of any country, turned it off, saved millions of lives, and now am building an even greater economy than it was before. Jobs are flowing, NASDAQ is already at a record high, the rest to follow. Sit back & watch!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 18, 2020
. . . and how he and his team “issued national guidelines that included closing schools and avoiding bars, restaurants and groups of more than 10 as he prepared for months of upheaval” at the start of the pandemic.
On Saturday, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, who Trump criticized in April 2020 for allegedly reopening too soon and who Trump has also attacked as a “RINO” over his stance on the 2020 Georgia election results, hit back at the former POTUS, writing that Trump “led the opposition” to him reopening the Peach State.
“While he listened to Fauci & parroted media talking points, I listened to hardworking Georgians,” Kemp also stated.
The fact is former president Trump led the opposition to my decision to reopen Georgia – the first state in the country to do so.
While he listened to Fauci & parroted media talking points, I listened to hardworking Georgians.
He may not remember, but I sure as hell do. https://t.co/8eWPidlnfP
— Brian Kemp (@BrianKempGA) September 9, 2023
Kemp wasn’t wrong. The video tells the story:
Three years ago today, Donald Trump began a series of attacks against Georgia Governor @BrianKempGA, demanding Kemp keep Georgia shut down. Kemp ignored Trump, reopened Georgia, and Georgia's economy and families have been better off. pic.twitter.com/SL2xStvPUd
— Erick Erickson (@EWErickson) April 22, 2023
As a reminder of Trump’s stance on reopening at the time, there was also this:
….It is the decision of the President, and for many good reasons. With that being said, the Administration and I are working closely with the Governors, and this will continue. A decision by me, in conjunction with the Governors and input from others, will be made shortly!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 13, 2020
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, considered Trump’s main rival for the GOP presidential nomination, also pushed back last week on some of Trump’s claims about the Trump administration’s handling of the coronavirus, saying that yes, Trump could have fired Fauci but didn’t—and that his change in tune on how he handled Fauci doesn’t add up:
“First of all, you’re not allowed. He’s civil service, and you’re not allowed to fire him,” Trump told Hewitt. “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.”
“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,” the governor continued. “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.”
“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 because he had basically committed misconduct with the gain of function.”
DeSantis also made similar remarks during a recent Fox News interview:
DeSantis on Trump’s COVID record: “At the end of the day, the leader has got to take responsibility… When we reopened the state, he criticized us. When we had kids in school…he criticized us. When we said no vaccine mandates, they criticized us.”pic.twitter.com/Ntf91nIMDO
— Michael P Senger (@michaelpsenger) September 8, 2023
Of the two, Trump’s ire has been directed far more at DeSantis over his management of Florida during the pandemic, with some pretty fantastical revisionism coming from Trump in saying, for example, that disgraced former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) managed the outbreak much better than DeSantis did.
Trump has also put out highly misleading information about the Florida coronavirus death rate and has falsely painted DeSantis as the king of lockdowns when DeSantis was, like Kemp, one of the first governors in the nation to reopen his state after initially going along with the “15/30 days to slow the spread” push coming from the Trump White House coronavirus task force, which included Fauci.
In that same Fox News interview, DeSantis forcefully refuted some of the claims Trump has made about his record of managing the outbreak in Florida, correctly pointing out for example that though he initially went along with what the Trump administration was advocating, he soon analyzed the data and decided “to chart a separate course”:
.@RonDeSantis on Trump saying FL was one of the worst states on COVID: “That’s total nonsense…Those 1st few wks, we followed some of the…guidelines. I’ve always said that, but then I was looking at…data myself & I made the decision…to chart a separate course…FL boomed” pic.twitter.com/IgZDeh9QPW
— Curtis Houck (@CurtisHouck) September 8, 2023
DeSantis noted that Trump was running campaign ads a month before the 2020 presidential election that included Fauci praising the administration’s response to the pandemic, and that Trump awarded Fauci (and Dr. Birx) Presidential Commendations shortly before he left office:
“This is important. Donald Trump’s re-election campaign in October of 2020 was running ads bragging with Fauci saying Trump did everything I told him to do. They were bragging about it and then on January 19th, 2021…he gave Fauci a presidential commendation, so those were wrong…[L]ooking forward, we need accountability for what went wrong because those people in positions of authority…they lied about lockdowns, school closures, mask mandates, they were wrong. It did a lot of damage around this country…The people that were harmed–a lot of them came to Florida…So, we need a reckoning so that it never happens to our country again & we instituted permanent protections in FL…against all this stuff.
People said, ‘oh, you are talking about old issues.’ Well, you see they’re trying to bring it back. Montgomery county, Maryland school district forcing students to wear KN-95 masks during the school day. We know that doesn’t work. So, we’ve got to clear house in these medical bureaucracies. We need evidence-based medicine, not narrative-based policies.”
.@RonDeSantis: “This is important. Donald Trump’s re-election campaign in October of 2020 was running ads bragging with Fauci saying Trump did everything I told him to do. They were bragging about it and then on January 19th, 2021…he gave Fauci a presidential commendation, so… pic.twitter.com/gRhPN6OT7N
— Curtis Houck (@CurtisHouck) September 8, 2023
On the other hand, Trump is on record as repeatedly touting the supposed need for shutdowns, with many clips in the below video showing him being a staunch advocate during his presidency for them, and boasting about how the state shutdowns supposedly worked:
rump did some great things (I can think of 3 of them on SCOTUS) But we need to STOP the gaslighting. He unraveled our country by kowtowing to Fauci and pushing lockdowns and vaccines – which TO THIS DAY – he has never renounced.
How much responsibility does Trump bear? pic.twitter.com/3SsFkRVR7u
— Justin Hart (@justin_hart) September 2, 2023
I think the message from both Kemp and DeSantis to Trump on this topic are very clear here: On the issue of who handled the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak better, you might want to sit this one out.
— Stacey Matthews has also written under the pseudonym “Sister Toldjah” and can be reached via Twitter. —DONATE
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