Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is calling out former President Donald Trump over a letter the White House sent to Florida in January 2021, shortly before Trump left office, urging the state to require distancing and masking to combat the coronavirus.
“For months, May 2020, Summer 2020, Fall 2020, even January of 2021, I was getting hit by the White House Task Force under Trump. This wasn’t even Biden. This was Trump. … Weeks before they left office, they were sending us missives to Florida, saying, ‘Impose mask mandates, and close bars and restaurants and businesses,'” DeSantis said Thursday during an event in Jacksonville, Florida.
DeSantis was referencing a letter sent by Trump’s White House Coronavirus Task Force on Jan. 10, 2021, saying that “aggressive mitigation must be used” to combat the virus.
“Without uniform implementation of effective face masking (two or three ply and well-fitting) and strict physical distancing, epidemics could quickly worsen as more transmissible variants spread and become dominant,” the letter said.
The letter also advised “active and aggressive immunization.”
“That’s what they were pushing,” DeSantis added. “And that was pretty much uniform between the political and bureaucratic sphere, and it was driven by people like [Dr. Anthony] Fauci with no regard for what that would mean for people’s livelihoods.
“We had to be the one to stand in the breach on that.”
DeSantis did not heed the advice from the White House Coronavirus Response Team and has since pushed to ban mask and vaccine mandates, along with gain of function research.
“DESANTIS tears into the Trump White House COVID Task Force,” a social media account for the DeSantis campaign posted with a clip of the governor’s comments.
The war of words between DeSantis and Trump has intensified in recent days over who handled the coronavirus pandemic better and why Trump didn’t fire Dr. Anthony Fauci in response to the many controversies that surrounded his tenure as head of the White House Coronavirus Response Team.
On Wednesday, Trump told radio host Hugh Hewitt he “wasn’t allowed” by the federal government to fire Fauci and that the doctor “wasn’t a big player in my administration.”
Trump added that DeSantis was “not in the category” of conservative governors who did a “good job” handling the coronavirus.
DeSantis pushed back on Wednesday night, telling “The Rubin Report” firing Fauci would have been the right thing to do, and if “they sue you, they sue you.”
The Trump campaign posted several links on its website Thursday attacking DeSantis’ record, including one with the headline, “Ron DeSantis’ Lying Record on COVID.”
“Team Trump knows that the COVID debacle and Trump’s decision to surrender the country to Fauci casts a dark shadow over his record, which is why they are now in panic mode,” Carly Atchison, national spokesperson for the DeSantis campaign, told Fox News Digital.
The Trump campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Fox News Digital.