5 takeaways from Dr. Anthony Fauci's new memoir

Former President Donald Trump thought the coronavirus would “disappear like magic” and berated him for saying it wouldn’t. Former President George H.W. Bush offered him the job as head of the National Institutes of Health, and he turned it down. And former President Barack Obama stopped him from writing a New York Times op-ed about ending the AIDS epidemic because it was “off message.”

Those are just some of the revelations from “On Call: A Doctor’s Journey in Public Service,” Dr. Anthony Fauci’s new memoir that was published on Tuesday.

In it, the nation’s former top infectious disease expert, now 83, recounts how he helped guide the country through two major public health crises: AIDS and COVID-19.

Fauci, the former director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), served under seven presidents, including Trump and Biden. He also served as Biden’s chief medical adviser. He stepped down from both positions in 2022.

Fauci also describes his upbringing as a child of Italian immigrants in Brooklyn, taking readers through his six-decade career as a physician and public servant.

But it was his tenure under Trump, with whom he often clashed over the U.S. response to the pandemic, that made Fauci a household name — and a boogyman of far-right conspiracy theorists.

Here are five takeaways from Fauci’s new memoir.

Donald Trump, right, with Anthony Fauci in 2020Donald Trump, right, with Anthony Fauci in 2020

Trump with Fauci after a briefing with members of the coronavirus task force in 2020. (Jabin Botsford/Washington Post via Getty Images)

Fauci writes that on June 3, 2020, three months into the pandemic, Trump “started screaming at me” for stating that the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines would last only six months to a year.

According to Fauci, Trump was furious that booster shots would likely be required after the rollout of the initial vaccines.

“It was quite a phone call,” Fauci recalls in the book. “The president was irate, saying that I could not keep doing this to him. He said he loved me, but the country was in trouble, and I was making it worse.”

“I have a pretty thick skin,” he adds. “But getting yelled at by the president of the United States, no matter how much he tells you that he loves you, is not fun.”

President Trump, right, with Anthony Fauci President Trump, right, with Anthony Fauci

Trump excoriated Fauci for his warning that the COVID vaccine might only be effective for six months. (Jabin Botsford/Washington Post via Getty Images)

On Nov. 1, 2020, just days before the presidential election, Trump called Fauci from Air Force One to tell him that he was not going to fire him despite pressure from his supporters to do just that.

“Everybody wants me to fire you, but I’m not going to fire you. You have too illustrious a career,” Trump said, according to Fauci. “But you have to be positive. The country cannot stay locked down. You have got to give them hope.

“I like you,” Trump continued, according to Fauci’s memoir. “But so many people, not only in the White House, but throughout the country, hate you because of what you are doing.”

On the same call, Trump unloaded on “that f***er” Joe Biden.

“I am going to win this election by a f***ing landslide,” Trump said. “And that f***er Biden. He is so f***ing stupid. I am going to kick his f***ing ass in this election.”

Anthony FauciAnthony Fauci

Alex Wong/Getty Images

As a result of his public clashes with Trump, Fauci received numerous death threats. In the book, he details one particularly unnerving episode in August 2021 when he opened a letter that contained white powder along with a chilling message.

“MANDATORY LOCKDOWNS,” it read in all capital letters. “REAP WHAT YOU SOW. ENJOY YOUR GIFT.”

Subsequent testing determined that the powder was harmless, but for several hours, Fauci worried that he had been exposed to a deadly toxin.

“I do not fear death,” Fauci writes. “But I was not ready to leave this earth yet. Not by a long shot.”

Anthony Fauci Anthony Fauci

Fauci at the White House, April 22, 2020. (Jabin Botsford/Washington Post via Getty Images)

In 1989, Fauci turned down an offer from then-President George H. W. Bush to become chief of the National Institutes of Health, the nation’s top health agency.

But as Fauci enjoyed working as chief of the NIAID’s Laboratory of Immunoregulation and did not want a job with immense administrative responsibilities, so he turned it down.

“Mr. President,” Fauci recalled telling Bush in the Oval Office, “I believe that I can serve you and the country better if I remain where I am.”

Fauci recalled that, on his way out, then-White House chief of staff John Sununu smiled and said, “You son of a bitch. Nobody says no to the president.”

Marjorie Taylor Greene Marjorie Taylor Greene

GOP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia points to a photograph of Fauci while questioning him during a hearing about the COVID-19 pandemic’s origins, on June 3. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Fauci generally speaks highly of his bosses, from Reagan to Biden but he was often unsettled by the “frustrating realities of Washington, D.C.,” namely partisan politics getting in the way of public health initiatives.

Fauci writes that, under President George W. Bush, he wanted the administration to make a major push in the fight against tuberculosis and malaria, and made a pitch for Bush to include the effort in his final State of the Union address. (Malaria was mentioned but without a call for funding, Fauci recalls. Tuberculosis wasn’t discussed at all.)

During the Obama administration, Fauci pushed for a new initiative aimed at creating an “AIDS-free generation” and even pitched writing a New York Times op-ed about the possibility of ending the AIDS pandemic. But an official in the Obama White House noticed Fauci’s draft included a call for funding and demanded he pull back the submission for being “off message.”

Anthony Fauci's new memoirAnthony Fauci's new memoir

Fauci’s new memoir. (Viking)

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