Dr Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease and who advised the White House during the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, opened up about his contentious relationship with Donald Trump.
Dr Fauci made the comments during an interview with The Telegraph.
The doctor discussed how Mr Trump attempted to publicly discredit him despite the fact that both men were ostensibly working toward the same goal.
"When it became clear that in order to maintain my integrity and to get the right message [across] I had to publicly disagree with him, he did things - or allowed things to happen - that were terrible," Mr Fauci said. "Like he allowed Peter Navarro [Mr Trump's trade adviser] to write an editorial in USA Today saying that almost everything I've ever said was wrong."
The doctor said that Mr Trump's contentious relationship with him made him a target in the eyes of the former president's more deranged followers.
"To this day I have to have armed federal agents guarding me all the time," Dr Fauci said.
Steve Bannon, who worked as a strategist for Mr Trump and eventually received a presidential pardon for defrauding people who donated to build a border wall, once suggested the doctor should be beheaded for standing up to the former president.
During his "War Room" podcast, Mr Bannon said that Mr Trump's second term - had it occurred - should have began with him firing FBI director Chris Wray and Dr Fauci.
He then took it a step further and openly longed for the barbaric practices of the past.
“Now I actually want to go a step farther, but I realize the president is a kind-hearted man and a good man,” Mr Bannon said. “I’d actually like to go back to the old times of Tudor England, I’d put the heads on pikes, right, I’d put them at the two corners of the White House as a warning to federal bureaucrats. You either get with the program or you’re gone – time to stop playing games.”
Dr Fauci thought the situation was bizarre.
“It’s obviously been very stressful. I mean, to deny that would be to deny reality,” Dr Fauci said. “When you have public figures like Bannon calling for your beheading, that’s really kind of unusual, I think. That’s not the kind of thing you think about when you’re going through medical school to become a physician.”
Dr Fauci and Mr Trump appeared to have a contentious relationship from the start of the pandemic.
Critics of Mr Trump largely had low expectations for the former president's ability to lead the country through the pandemic. As a result, many liberals disregarded the president's words and looked to Dr Fauci for guidance.
Not one to appreciate dissent or being upstaged, Mr Trump eventually sidelined Dr Fauci. The former president barred the doctor from appearing on cable news shows and did not invite him to speak to the press during conferences. Instead, the former president put a doctor who supported his claims, Dr. Scott Atlas, in the position, until he resigned last winter.
Mr Trump even openly pondered firing Dr Fauci once his second term began. Lucky for the doctor, Mr Trump lost the 2020 election.
Since Joe Biden has taken office, Dr Fauci has continued to serve as a central member of the White House's coronavirus response team.
Join our commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies