There’s just one problem—he really can’t follow through with this threat, and Fauci says he’s not leaving.
As director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, Fauci is not a political appointee. His office may work closely with the president and his cabinet, but Fauci is still a federal employee with civil protections. This means he cannot be fired for political reasons.
That is not to say he has immunity from Trump. The president could still have him removed, though it would take a long, arduous process requiring him to provide “just cause.” This could include a “failure to follow orders” or a form of misconduct, according to the Washington Post.
Fauci has been praised by President-elect Joe Biden, though Biden didn’t put Fauci on his own coronavirus task force. While on the campaign trail for Biden, former President Barack Obama defended Fauci for his “public service.”
On Nov. 10, Fauci responded to rumors that he might be fired.
“I have no intention of leaving,” Fauci told CNN. “This is an important job. I’ve been doing it now for a very long time. I’ve been doing it under six presidents. It’s an important job, and my goal is to serve the American public, no matter what the administration is.”
Fauci also told CNN he expects the coming weeks to be a struggle for Americans as COVID-19 cases surge, especially since the U.S. keeps setting records for new daily coronavirus cases and for the number of people around the country who have been hospitalized. Fauci did note, however, that the Pfizer vaccine, which showed a 90% effectiveness rate, is “on the way.”