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STORY BY KAITLAN COLLINS AND KEVIN LIPTAK, CN

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Published on October 19, 2020 10:43 AM

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Trump trashes Fauci and makes baseless coronavirus claims in campaign call
(CNN)A frustrated and at times foul-mouthed President Donald Trump claimed on a campaign call that people are tired of hearing about the deadly pandemic which has killed more than 215,000 Americans and trashed Dr. Anthony Fauci as a "disaster" who has been around for "500 years."

Referring to Fauci and other health officials as "idiots," Trump declared the country ready to move on from the health disaster, even as cases are again spiking and medical experts warn the worst may be yet to come.

Baselessly claiming that if Fauci was in charge more than half a million people would be dead in the United States, Trump portrayed the recommendations offered by his own administration to mitigate spread of the disease as a burdensome annoyance.

"People are tired of Covid. I have these huge rallies," Trump said, phoning into a call with campaign staff from his namesake hotel in Las Vegas, where he spent two nights amid a western campaign swing. "People are saying whatever. Just leave us alone. They're tired of it. People are tired of hearing Fauci and all these idiots."

"Fauci is a nice guy," Trump went on. "He's been here for 500 years."

Fauci has been the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984 and is a member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force. At almost the same time Trump was fuming on the phone, Fauci was being awarded the National Academy of Medicine's first-ever Presidential Citation for Exemplary Leadership during a virtual ceremony. Fauci said that he was "speechless" while receiving the recognition.

"We have a lot of challenges ahead of us and I can't help thinking that we're really going through a time that's disturbingly anti-science in certain segments of our society," Fauci said during the virtual event.

Trump openly criticized Fauci as his campaign is currently airing a television ad featuring the doctor that implies Fauci endorsed Trump's handling of the pandemic. Fauci has disputed the ad, saying his words were taken out of context, and asked the campaign to take it down. But the ad was widely seen as an acknowledgment by the President's campaign staff that Fauci has credibility with voters who have rejected Trump's response. The President is trailing in polling to Democratic rival Joe Biden in part due to his mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic. Trump recently returned to the campaign trail after being ...