Where Things Stand: Signs That You And Trump Might Be On The Fritz

This is your TPM early-afternoon briefing.
WASHINGTON, DC - March 21: President Donald Trump, left, listens as Dr. Anthony Fauci talks to reporters as members of the Coronavirus Task Force hold a press briefing in Washington, DC. (Photo by Bill O'Leary/The W... WASHINGTON, DC - March 21: President Donald Trump, left, listens as Dr. Anthony Fauci talks to reporters as members of the Coronavirus Task Force hold a press briefing in Washington, DC. (Photo by Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post via Getty Images) MORE LESS

This is how it typically goes when President Trump is growing tired of you.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), was notably absent from the White House coronavirus task force briefing on Monday evening. While Trump maintained that he and Fauci were on good terms, the absence was significant after Fauci gave a surprisingly candid interview to Science Magazine over the weekend, in which he acknowledged his differences of opinion with the President.

Late Monday night the New York Times published a report, suggesting that Trump has grown weary of Fauci’s ongoing contradictions to Trump’s messaging, which is often overly optimistic about the pandemic and not always rooted in fact. Some White House officials told the Times that Fauci has been too critical of Trump, but unnamed advisers maintained that Trump will keep the doctor around, for now, because of his credibility with the public — and, more importantly, the credibility he brings to Trump’s COVID-19 team.

If this administration’s incessant turnover has taught us anything, it’s that Trump doesn’t keep people who publicly contradict him around for long. And Fauci hasn’t necessarily been subtle in his disapproval.

Here’s more on that and other stories we’re following:

What The Investigations Team Is Watching

Matt Shuham is looking into an uptick in calls to sacrifice public health to save the economy coming from conservative and Trump allies. Kate Riga is following up on reports that Liberty University — run by the hardcore Trump defender Jerry Falwell Jr. — will bring students back to campus to live in dorms and continue their classes online, despite social distancing orders.

What The Breaking News Team Is Watching

President Trump will participate in a virtual town hall with Fox News this afternoon. We’ll be covering it live here.

Last night, Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R) argued that if old people really cared about their grandkids, they’d be willing to die from COVID-19 to save the economy if the government lifts social distancing measures. We’ve logged some of the reactions to the befuddling remarks here.

Today’s Rundown

12:00 p.m. ET: Trump will hold a virtual town hall with Fox News

3:00 p.m. ET: Vice President Mike Pence will meet with the COVID-19 task force in the Situation Room. There is no news briefing scheduled for today currently.

Yesterday’s Most Read Story

Temper Erupts On Senate Floor Over Impasse In COVID-19 Response — Tierney Sneed

What We Are Reading

The Great Empty — Photographs by the New York Times

Spit On, Yelled At, Attacked: Chinese Americans Fear For Their Safety — Sabrina Tavernise and Richard Oppel

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