Is the Trump White House fired up? Not exactly. White House spokesman Hogan Gidley tried to douse the speculation that Anthony S. Fauci is about to be sacked for his incautious remarks on CNN’s State of the Union about the merits of an earlier shutdown: ‘This media chatter is ridiculous. Dr Fauci has been and remains a trusted adviser to President Trump.’
The problem is that the White House has issued similarly indignant statements in the past, only to watch Trump’s wrath turn pustular on Twitter. Any future transgressions are not likely to be forgiven. For now, Trump, who prevented Fauci from responding to a question about hydroxycholoroquine a week ago at a news conference, has sent a warning shot in Fauci’s direction. Given that Americans trust Fauci more than Trump, he has plenty of psychic reasons to want to oust him. For some on the right, Fauci has become the James Comey of the scientific community, a renegade member of the deep state who is sabotaging the Trump presidency. Lawmakers such as Andy Biggs are claiming that Fauci has almost singlehandedly ’emasculated the economy’. He added, ‘I think it’s time…for Dr Fauci to move along.’
In the Trump sphere, he’s hardly alone in viewing Fauci as performing a kind of vasectomy on a previously potent economy. White House adviser Peter Navarro has also tangled with him and denounced healthcare experts to the New York Times, calling them a bunch of ‘tone deaf’ ninnies who ‘piously preen on their soap boxes speaking only half of the medical truth without reference or regard for the other half of the equation which is the very real mortal dangers associated with the closure of the economy for an extended period.’ Give Navarro credit for delivering the kind of unabashed, salty language that you almost never hear from a top government official.
The pressure on Trump is also ramping up from outside. According to the Washington Post, several conservative groups are mobilizing to make the case for reopening the economy sooner rather than later, including Stephen Moore whose nomination to join the Federal Reserve went down in flames in May 2019: ‘The outside effort from conservative groups is expected to be led by Stephen Moore, a conservative at the Heritage Foundation who is close with White House economic officials; Jenny Beth Martin, co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots; Adam Brandon, president of FreedomWorks, a conservative advocacy organization; and Lisa Nelson, chief executive of the American Legislative Exchange Council, a conservative organization with ties to the Koch Brothers, according to the three people, granted anonymity to reveal details of an effort that had not been publicly revealed.’
But Trump may once more have shot himself in the foot with the unveiling of his Council to Re-open America, which features Jared and Ivanka as members. It contains no experts on medicine, public health or science. Instead of inspiring confidence in his ability to resuscitate the sagging economy, Trump is further eroding it by engaging in more blatant nepotism. The timeservers surrounding Trump will tell him whatever he wants to hear, which isn’t difficult to discern. He wants a booming stock market here and now.
But the notion that Trump can wave a magic wand, create a big bang and watch blissfully as economic activity resumes is a chimera. Trump needs better counsel than his little Council can provide him. He might start by actually listening to Fauci before he craters the economy even further.