President TrumpDonald TrumpOmar, Muslim Democrats decry Islamophobia amid death threats On The Money — Powell pivots as inflation rises Trump cheers CNN's Cuomo suspension MORE joked Friday that he told Anthony FauciAnthony FauciNew variant raises questions about air travel mandates Auschwitz Museum, Jewish groups condemn Lara Logan's Fauci comments Lara Logan compares Fauci to Nazi doctor MORE, a leading member of the administration's coronavirus task force, that he should move to New York and run against Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezHouse progressives urge Garland to intervene in ex-environmental lawyer Steven Donziger's case Boebert and Omar fight leaves GOP scrambling Dearborn office of Rep. Debbie Dingell vandalized MORE (D-N.Y.) because he would “win easily.”
“I told Tony Fauci, why don’t you move to New York, run against AOC, you will win easily,” Trump told reporters at a White House briefing on Friday afternoon, referring to Ocasio-Cortez, who represents New York’s 14th District. “He’s decided that he’s not going to do that.”
The remarks prompted laughter from Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), as well as Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator. Both task force members were seated in the briefing room near the podium.
Trump added shortly thereafter, “I kid.”
President Trump: "I told Tony Fauci, I said, 'Why don't you move to New York, run against AOC.'... I kid." pic.twitter.com/VllcNmZ1Rh— The Hill (@thehill) April 10, 2020
Ocasio-Cortez, a first-term congresswoman, emerged as a popular target for the president’s criticism after she was elected in 2018 when Democrats took control of the House.
Fauci has become a popular face of the White House coronavirus task force, often appearing on television to discuss the administration’s efforts. He has served at the helm of the NIAID for more than three decades.
Trump shared the anecdote in response to a question from CNN’s Jim AcostaJames (Jim) AcostaLofgren: Many Jan. 6 panel witnesses are former Trump officials CNN's Acosta labels Tucker Carlson Jan. 6 series 'Proud Boy porn' Schiff says holding Bannon in criminal contempt 'a way of getting people's attention' MORE about whether he would listen to health experts if they told him that the country could not be opened up on May 1. The White House social distancing guidelines are due to expire on April 30 and Trump has appeared eager to loosen restrictions to help revive the U.S. economy.
“I listen to them about everything. I think they are actually surprised. I have great respect for these people, all of them, and others that are working for us,” Trump answered.
Pressed further, Trump said he would listen to his health experts but also said he understood the “other side of the argument” for opening up the country, referencing economic concerns related to the business closures and layoffs spurred by the coronavirus.
“I will certainly listen,” Trump said. “I understand the other side of the argument very well.”
“I will listen to them very carefully, though," he added.