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Top White House aide posts cartoon mocking Dr. Anthony Fauci

A top White House aide shared a cartoon online mocking Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's leading infectious diseases expert, and suggesting that Fauci is responsible for sinking the U.S. economy. The post comes amid reports of Fauci falling out of favor with the White House, even as the coronavirus pandemic worsens nationwide.

Dan Scavino, the deputy chief of staff for communication, posted the cartoon on his Facebook page Sunday. It portrays Fauci as "Dr. Faucet," who is drowning Uncle Sam with a flood of warnings about the pandemic: "Schools stay closed this fall!," "Indefinite lockdown!," "Shut up and obey!" and "No NFL season!"

The cartoon also shows Senator Rand Paul, a Republican from Kentucky who has publicly criticized Fauci, standing by the side and yelling, "Shut him off!" 

In small print, Fauci is labeled in the drawing with the words "Gates Foundation." Bill Gates has been an outspoken critic of the White House's handling of the pandemic and has warned for years about the need for better preparedness. There are numerous false conspiracy theories online about Fauci and Gates supposedly being in cahoots to benefit from the pandemic.

Scavino wrote with his post: "Sorry, Dr. Faucet! At least you know if I'm going to disagree with a colleague, such as yourself, it's done publicly — and not cowardly, behind journalists with leaks. See you tomorrow!" Fauci was back at the White House the next day.

The cartoon comes from Ben Garrison, a conservative cartoonist who was disinvited from a White House social media summit last year after allegations that some of his work is anti-Semitic. 

The post misrepresents several of Fauci's stances on the pandemic response. Fauci has suggested schools can reopen in the fall on a case-by-case basis, and he said last month that he did not believe more widespread lockdowns were needed. He has also spoken openly about the fact that scientists still have a lot to learn about this new virus.

Fauci has led the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases for more than three decades, and was a central figure in the White House's coronavirus task force in the early weeks of the pandemic. 

But his relationship with Mr. Trump appeared to sour as the president resisted Fauci's warnings about the severity of the pandemic and the need to move cautiously to reopen the economy. Fauci told the Financial Times last week that he hadn't briefed the president in more than two months, or even seen him in person since June 2.

The White House in recent days has attempted to discredit Fauci with a media campaign pointing out his perceived mistakes in responding to the pandemic. The president himself has retweeted posts disparaging Fauci and suggesting the doctor is siding with Democrats. 

Even so, Mr. Trump insisted Monday that he has a "very good relationship" with Fauci, telling reporters, "I find him to be a very nice person. I don't always agree with him."

CBS News polling has found that a majority of Americans trust Fauci on responding to the pandemic, though he gets lower marks from Republicans. 

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