Donald Trump attacks Anthony Fauci, probe into his finances

GREENVILLE, NORTH CAROLINA Former President Donald Trump on Saturday sharply attacked US infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci over his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, demanded reparations from China and denounced an investigation into his finances in a speech in North Carolina.

Speaking in Greenville, North Carolina, at the state's Republican Party convention, Mr Trump joined a chorus of Republican politicians who are criticising Dr Fauci for asking Americans to wear masks and who at times has been sceptical of a theory that the virus escaped from a laboratory in Wuhan, China.

Mr Trump called Dr Fauci "not a great doctor but a great promoter" for his frequent television appearances.

"But he has been wrong on almost every issue, and he was wrong on Wuhan and the lab also," Mr Trump said.

The origin of the virus remains hotly contested and remains under study by US intelligence agencies.

Mr Trump's own handling of the pandemic, in which nearly 600,000 people in the US have died and he himself was infected, was a factor in his loss to Democratic President Joe Biden in the election last year.

Mr Trump called on China to pay US$10 trillion (S$13 trillion) in reparations to the US and the world for its handling of the virus, and he said nations should cancel their debt to Beijing.

North Carolina Republican Party chairman Michael Whatley introduced Mr Trump as "our president", a nod to the former president's baseless claims that the 2020 election was stolen from him.

Mr Trump said a criminal investigation launched by the New York Attorney-General's Office, which has been investigating whether the Trump Organisation falsely reported property values to secure loans and get tax benefits, is the "ultimate fishing expedition" and latest attempt by Democrats to bring him down after two impeachment sagas. - REUTERS