Just hours after news broke Monday that Donald Trump called Dr. Anthony Fauci an "idiot" during a call with campaign staff, the president was asked by a reporter why he doesn't just go ahead and fire the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
"I don’t want to," Trump responded to the question after deplaning from Air Force One at Prescott Regional Airport in Arizona, according to the pool report. "I don’t want to hurt him. He’s been there for about 350 years. I don’t want to hurt him." (Fauci joined the NIH in 1968.)
Trump was also asked if he targeted Fauci because of his "high standing" among Americans.
"No, I think, really, Dr. Fauci is a very nice man, but we let him do what he wants to do,": Trump said. "He gets a lot of television. He loves being on television, and we let him do it. Sometimes he says things that are a little bit off, and they get built up, unfortunately."
Trump added, "But he’s a nice guy. I like him. But he’s called a lot of bad calls. He said don’t wear a mask and he said don’t ban China. They were bad calls. He admits that. And I don’t hold that against him. If I did, I wouldn’t have him. I think he’s a nice a guy.