On Monday, Trump dismissed those concerns as if he had not initially sparked them when he retweeted a message Sunday night that included the hashtag #FireFauci.

“Today I walk in and I hear I’m going to fire him,” Trump said during the White House daily press briefing. “I’m not firing. I think he’s a wonderful guy.”

But some Republicans took Trump’s post Sunday as a green light to ramp up attacks on Fauci, whom some of the president’s allies blame for the stay-at-home orders that have crippled much of the country’s economy.

The political debate over Fauci’s fate reflected Trump’s penchant for injecting uncertainty and drama into the federal government’s coronavirus response, in which Fauci has played key roles both publicly and privately. By elevating the prospect of his ouster or diminishment while the pandemic rages on, Trump cast Fauci as the latest beleaguered figure in a presidency marked by the abrupt ouster of dozens of officials from the FBI, the State Department, the intelligence community and elsewhere.