(LifeSiteNews) — President Donald Trump is coming under fire from some of his most loyal supporters for comments he made about his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic during an interview with former Fox News host Megyn Kelly.
Trump sat down for a wide-ranging, hour-long interview with Kelly this week on her podcast. They famously butted heads at a 2016 GOP presidential debate over Trump’s treatment of women.
The pair talked about a variety of items related to the upcoming 2024 presidential race but also his time in office. Operation Warp Speed and Anthony Fauci were two subjects that were especially contentious.
“For years, you’ve been saying that the reason you didn’t fire Anthony Fauci was because he’d been there for a long time, that you would have taken heat, that it would have created a firestorm,” Kelly said.
“I also said I didn’t listen to him that much,” Trump interrupted.
“You made him a star. This is the criticism of you, that you made him the face of the White House coronavirus task force,” she continued. “You actually gave him a presidential commendation before you left office. Wouldn’t you like a do-over on that?”
A clearly disturbed Trump, who tried to talk over Kelly as she asked her question, feigned ignorance.
“I don’t know who gave him the commendation. I really don’t know who gave him the commendation,” he replied.
Per the White House website, Trump approved a presidential commendation for Fauci on January 19, 2021, his last day in office. Others who received the honor include Dr. Deborah Birx, Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, and General Mark Milley, who began serving as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under President Trump in 2019.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis pounced on Trump’s apparent forgetfulness, telling The Blaze that the former president “used to cite Fauci’s poll numbers” and that it was “pathetic” to hear him not fully denounce Fauci on Kelly’s program.
Fauci has become something of a political hot potato within the Republican Party and its presidential primary. His support for Remdesevir, as well endorsements of mask mandates and lockdowns, have made him a villain among millions of conservatives and medical freedom activists.
In recent months, Trump and DeSantis have exchanged warring words over who did and did not listen to his advice during the pandemic. Trump has repeatedly said he didn’t have the power to fire Fauci and that he “was much less important” in his administration.
DeSantis, whom Trump accuses of “locking down Florida” per Fauci’s advice, has pointed out that Florida schools and business were re-opened faster than other states. DeSantis’ social media team has also touted his opposition to ventilators and Remdesevir.
Kelly pressed Trump on the effectiveness of the COVID jab, White House support for mask mandates, and other aspects of the pandemic as well. In response, Trump repeated much of what he has said previously.
“I’m not somebody who denies some of the good that the vaccines did,” Kelly, who developed an autoimmune issue after getting a COVID booster, said. “I lived through that, too. Of course, a lot of people have been vaccine injured. And that’s one of the questions. Those people are mad that [the vaccines were] rushed through and that they can’t sue.”
“Well, I never gave mandates… some places had mandates, largely Democrat governors and probably some Republicans,” Trump replied. Trump insisted that a number of Democrats and “very smart people” have told him that his work on the COVID vaccines “saved 100 million people worldwide.” Trump then touted his “tremendous job” with “Regeneron… therapeutics… [and] the ventilators.”
In an interview with former GOP Michigan gubernatorial candidate Tudor Dixon earlier this month, Trump signaled support for pharmaceutical companies releasing internal vaccine injury data to the public. However, he didn’t give a clear answer as to whether he wants to hold them accountable for injuries when the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness (PREP) Act sunsets in December 2024.
Pedro Gonzalez of Chronicles magazine was one of Trump’s biggest supporters over the past several years. In recent months, he has taken a more critical stance toward the former president. On X, formerly Twitter, Gonzalez suggested that Trump’s inability to recall who gave the commendation to Fauci essentially disqualifies him from the presidency.
Absolutely brutal exchange. Trump claims he doesn’t know who gave Anthony Fauci a presidential commendation while he was president when pressed by Megyn Kelly.
MK: “The truth is though, not only did you not fire Fauci, who is loathed by many, many, millions of Republicans in… pic.twitter.com/E1g4TyzJaI
— Pedro L. Gonzalez (@emeriticus) September 14, 2023
“I don’t think a guy who says, ‘I don’t know’ who gave Fauci a presidential commendation while he was president is equipped to drain the swamp,” he posted.
In June, Trump vowed to undertake an investigation into Big Pharma’s potential role in causing childhood illnesses like autism, auto-immune disorders, and other problems, if re-elected.