President Donald Trump feuded with the nation’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, on Tuesday after featuring his words, out of context, in a political ad without his permission.

The president responded to a tweet noting the context of Fauci’s words taken by the Trump campaign that linked make to an article in which Fauci said “the comments attributed to me without my permission in the GOP campaign ad were taken out of context.”

Trump wrote back that “Actually, Tony’s pitching arm is far more accurate than his prognostications,” referring to Fauci’s fumbled first pitch on Major League Baseball’s Opening Day.

“No problem, no masks,” Trump added. “WHO no longer likes Lockdowns – just came out against. Trump was right. We saved 2,000,000 USA lives!!!”

 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention initially did not recommend mask-wearing unless symptomatic, a position they had revised by early April — far before administration officials, including Trump, began urging the public to comply with mask mandates.

The lockdown comment likely refers to an interview with David Nabarro, a special envoy to the World Health Organization, who encouraged a middle road approach between instituting a national lockdown and allowing herd immunity to grow. Nabarro referenced East Asia, Germany and parts of Canada as examples of this model — not the U.S., as the decision to lockdown was left to the states.

However, Tuesday’s tweet is directly linked to the 30-second pro-Trump ad that featured Fauci alongside Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley (who also was not asked permission to be in the ad, as the military generally bans uniformed service members from being part of political campaigns).

“I can’t imagine that … anybody could be doing more,” Fauci says in the ad, a quote he claims was not about Trump but the broader federal response instead.

Fauci has continued to complain about the use of his words and image, telling CNN, “In my nearly five decades of public service, I have never publicly endorsed any political candidate.

He added, “To take a completely out of context statement and put it in which is obviously a political campaign ad, I thought was really very disappointing.”