Members of the mainstream media have repeatedly attempted to “create a rift,” as one interviewer put it, between President Trump and Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert and the man who is playing a key role in the national response to the COVID-19 pandemic. So it’s no surprise that when President Trump inexplicably posted a response to a tweet that contained the hashtag “FireFauci,” the media “pounced.” Both Trump and Fauci have since made clear that there’s no “rift” and when asked directly about the much-reported retweet on Monday, Trump offered a classically Trumpian response.

The controversy began with Dr. Fauci’s appearance Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union” with host Jake Tapper, who, following the mainstream media script, repeatedly attempted to get Fauci to criticize the Trump administration’s early coronavirus response. Fauci pushed back, defending the administration’s actions, while also acknowledging that “obviously” lives could have been saved if social distancing measures were imposed earlier.

With many outlets spinning Fauci’s “obvious” acknowledgement as an attack on Trump, a former California GOP candidate tweeted: “Fauci is now saying that had Trump listened to the medical experts earlier he could’ve saved more lives. Fauci was telling people on February 29th that there was nothing to worry about and it posed no threat to the US public at large. Time to #FireFauci.”

Trump responded to the post on Sunday. “Sorry Fake News, it’s all on tape. I banned China long before people spoke up. Thank you [OANN],” Trump tweeted.

Asked during the press briefing on Monday why he retweeted the post , Trump said, “I don’t know.”

“I like him,” Trump said in reference to Fauci, as reported by The Daily Caller. “Today I walk in, I hear I’m going to fire him. I’m not firing him, I think he’s a wonderful guy.”

“I re-tweeted somebody, I don’t know,” he said. “They said fire. It doesn’t matter.”

The White House also responded to the “fire Fauci” media firestorm in an official statement on Monday.

“This media chatter is ridiculous – President Trump is not firing Dr. Fauci,” White House spokesman Hogan Gidley said in a statement Monday, as reported by Axios. “The President’s tweet clearly exposed media attempts to maliciously push a falsehood about his China decision in an attempt to rewrite history. It was Democrats and the media who ignored Coronavirus choosing to focus on impeachment instead, and when they finally did comment on the virus it was to attack President Trump for taking the bold decisive action to save American lives by cutting off travel from China and from Europe. Dr. Fauci has been and remains a trusted advisor to President Trump.”

As The Daily Wire has noted, Fauci has repeatedly pushed back on criticism of the Trump administration’s response and has specifically condemned the media’s attempts to drive a wedge between him and the president. Asked in late-March about media questions “designed to create a rift between you and the President of the United States,” Fauci replied: “That is really unfortunate. I would wish that that would stop because we have a much bigger problem here than trying to point out differences. There really, fundamentally at the core, when you look at things, there are not differences. The president has listened to what I have said and what the other people on the task force have said. When I have made recommendations he’s taken them; he’s never countered or overridden me; the idea of pitting one against the other is just not helpful. I wish that would stop and we’d look ahead at the challenge we have to pull together to get over this thing.”

Related: Dr. Fauci Debunks Notion That He Blamed Trump, Shuts Down Reporter Suggesting Conspiracy

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