NIH director says he was not pressured to fire Fauci after Trump retweet

NIH director says he was not pressured to fire Fauci after Trump retweet
© getty: Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

The head of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Francis Collins, said in a new interview that he was not pressured to fire Anthony FauciAnthony FauciFauci warns new coronavirus mutation may cause virus to spread more easily GOP Arizona lawmaker says Fauci and Birx 'undermine' Trump's coronavirus response Overnight Health Care: Experts fear July 4 weekend will exacerbate coronavirus spread | Texas Gov. Abbott will require masks in most of the state | Fauci warns: 'We are not going in the right direction' MORE, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, after President TrumpDonald John TrumpSecret Service members who helped organize Pence Arizona trip test positive for COVID-19: report Trump administration planning pandemic office at the State Department: report Iran releases photo of damaged nuclear fuel production site: report MORE retweeted a post that called for Fauci's firing.

In an interview with health care news site Stat, Collins said that he never thought it was "likely" that the president would actually push for Fauci to be fired and added that he had never discussed the tweet with Fauci.

"I didn’t actually think that was likely to happen, so no I don’t think I was worried. And certainly nobody reached out to me at that point," said Collins.

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"Tony and I have a phone conversation every evening, sometime between 8 and 10 p.m., just to be sure that we’re completely in lockstep about all the things we’re trying to do with research. I don’t think we ever talked about that tweet," he added.

The president made headlines on April 12 when he retweeted former GOP congressional candidate DeAnna Lorraine, who blasted Fauci for suggesting that restrictive federal measures, if implemented earlier in the U.S., could have saved more lives amid the coronavirus outbreak.

The incident raised questions about the relationship between the president and the health expert. 

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At the time, the White House strongly denied that Trump was considering firing Fauci, who also serves on the White House coronavirus task force.

“This media chatter is ridiculous — President Trump is not firing Dr. Fauci. The president’s tweet clearly exposed media attempts to maliciously push a falsehood about his China decision in an attempt to rewrite history," said White House deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley. 

"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," he added.