- President Trump has claimed that Dr. Anthony Fauci is a Democrat.
- 'He's a Democrat, everybody knows that,' Trump said.
- Fauci said: 'I am not registered with any political party.'
- It comes after the Trump campaign aired a campaign advert which took comments Fauci had made out of context to appear as if he was praising President Trump's handling of the coronavirus.
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President Trump on Thursday claimed that Dr. Anthony Fauci, the infectious diseases expert helping to co-ordinate the White House's coronavirus response, is a Democrat, despite him not being a member of any party.
Trump mentioned Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a key member of the White House Coronavirus task force, at an outdoor campaign rally in North Carolina on Thursday.
He said of Fauci: "He's a nice guy, so I keep him around. Right? We'll keep him around. He's a Democrat, everybody knows that. He's Cuomo's friend," a reference to Andrew Cuomo, the Democratic governor of New York.
Fauci subsequently told CNN: "I am not registered with any political party."
Trump sought to portray the infectious-diseases expert, with whom he has had a tense relationship since the start of the pandemic, as inconsistent because he initially recommended against the wearing of masks.
The president said: "He said, 'This is not a threat. This is not a problem. Don't worry about this, it's not a problem.' That's the craziest thing. Then he said, 'Do not wear a mask. Do not wear a mask under any circumstance. Don't wear a mask — don't, don't, don't,' right? So, we don't wear a mask, then they say 'Oh, wear a mask.' I never saw — do you ever see any conflicts? But he's a nice guy so I keep him around, right? We'll keep him around."
Health officials including Dr. Fauci in February and March advised the public not to wear masks, as did the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, saying there was not enough evidence to suggest that healthy people should wear masks.
But Fauci in April retracted the advice, and instead told people to wear masks where social distancing might not be possible.
It comes after the Trump campaign aired a campaign advert which took comments Fauci had made out of context to appear as if he was praising President Trump's handling of the coronavirus. The move prompted fury from the infectious-diseases expert, who maintains a steadfastly apolitical public image.
"In my nearly five decades of public service, I have never publicly endorsed any political candidate," Fauci said in a statement on Sunday. "The comments attributed to me without my permission in the GOP campaign ad were taken out of context from a broad statement I made months ago about the efforts of federal public health officials."
In an interview with the Daily Beast published on Monday, Fauci said that the advert, which was aired without his permission, meant the Trump campaign was "in effect harassing me." He told CNN it would be "outrageous" and "terrible" if he was featured in any further adverts.
Trump defended the advert by saying that "they are indeed Dr. Fauci's own words."
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