A source close to the White House tells CNN that President Trump has been calling allies and associates all weekend, complaining about recent media reports about his handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
Trump thinks "everybody is trying make themselves look good," the source said. In particular, Trump has been fixated on two government officials at the center of the response: Dr. Anthony Fauci and Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar.
"He's been fretting about Fauci for a while," the source said of Trump's focus on the popular public health expert. The source summed up Trump's comments about the doctor as, "Why isn't Fauci saying nice things about me?"
Trump is clearly trying to make Fauci uncomfortable, a tactic he uses with many of his top officials, the official said. Part of the problem, the source said, is that some in the president's circle have been criticizing Fauci, paining the doctor as somehow aligned with the Clintons.
Trump surrogates have been spreading negative stories about Fauci in recent days, attempting to portray the doctor as party responsible for the government's response to the virus, to deflect criticism from the president. White House officials have insisted Trump has confidence in Fauci. Last Friday, Trump defended his medical experts at the coronavirus task force press conference. But he stopped short of telling his allies to cease their political attacks on Fauci and the other top doctor on the task force, Deborah Birx.
The source went on to say that Trump is quickly losing patience with Azar, who has been the subject of speculation for weeks that the cabinet member may be on thin ice with the White House. Trump believes Azar's aides were partly behind a scathing New York Times piece on Trump's response to the virus, the source said. This source added Trump is particularly frustrated with the criticism that he could have acted sooner.