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Anthony Fauci, the government's top infectious diseases expert, told CNN on Monday that the Trump campaign should stop airing an ad that uses comments he made without his permission and out of context.

Why it matters: Fauci describes himself as apolitical and says he has never endorsed a political candidate in five decades of public service. He later told The Daily Beast there's "not a chance" that he would resign if the Trump campaign continued to feature him, but added, "By doing this against my will, they are in effect harassing me."

Context: A Trump campaign ad released on Saturday features a clip of Fauci saying, "I can't imagine that ... anybody could be doing any more." The clip appears edited to seem like Fauci is talking about President Trump. Fauci told CNN Sunday he made the comments months ago and was speaking broadly about federal health officials.

What they're saying: When CNN anchor Jake Tapper asked how Fauci would react if the campaign made another ad that featured him, Fauci responded, "That would be terrible. I mean that would be outrageous if they do that."

  • "In fact, that might actually come back to backfire on them. I hope they don't do that because that would be kind of playing a game that we don't want to play."
  • Trump campaign spokesperson Tim Murtaugh defended the ad in a statement on Monday, saying that “these are Dr. Fauci’s own words."
  • "The video is from a nationally broadcast television interview in which Dr. Fauci was praising the work of the Trump administration. The words spoken are accurate, and directly from Dr. Fauci’s mouth," Murtaugh added.

The big picture: Asked about President Trump's decision to continue having large campaign events that don't require attendees to wear a mask or social distance, Fauci said holding political rallies "is asking for trouble" — especially as the U.S. heads toward a winter season that could bring even higher rates of infection.

  • "We have seen that when you have situations of congregate settings where there are a lot of people without masks, the data speak for themselves. It happens. And now is even more so a worse time to do that," Fauci said.
  • "Because when you look at what's going on in the United States, it's really very troublesome. A number of states right now are having increases in test positivity. States above the Sun Belt, states in the Sun Belt. If you look at the map with the color coding of cases and states that are going up, you see states in the Northwest and the Midwest. It’s going in the wrong direction right now."

What to expect: Fauci noted on CNN that the coming cooler months would be a "recipe of a real problem if we don't get things under control before we get into that seasonal challenge."

  • During an appearance on CNBC later Monday, Fauci said the U.S. could prevent spikes occurring if Americans did "five fundamental things": universal mask-wearing, maintaining physical distance, avoiding crowds, "doing things more outdoors as opposed to indoors," and washing hands frequently.
  • "We've got to stop thinking that we exist in a vacuum only for ourselves," he said. "We're all in this together. We're all part of a society that's either going to get hurt or is going to get helped by our actions."

Go deeper: The onset of winter will make the coronavirus pandemic even worse

Editor's note: This article has been updated with Fauci's comments on CNBC

Go deeper

L.A. becomes first county to surpass 1 million coronavirus cases

COVID-19 mass-vaccination of healthcare workers takes place at Dodger Stadium. Photo: Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Los Angeles County officials said Saturday they had detected the county's first case of the highly transmissible coronavirus variant first found in the United Kingdom.

Why it matters: The announcement came as L.A. became the first county to surpass 1 million COVID-19 cases, straining the area's already overwhelmed health care system.

Off the Rails

Episode 1: A premeditated lie lit the fire

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. This Axios series takes you inside the collapse of a president.

Episode 1: Trump’s refusal to believe the election results was premeditated. He had heard about the “red mirage” — the likelihood that early vote counts would tip more Republican than the final tallies — and he decided to exploit it.

"Jared, you call the Murdochs! Jason, you call Sammon and Hemmer!”

Resurrecting Martin Luther King's office

King points to Selma, Alabama on a map at his Southern Christian Leadership Conference office in Atlanta in January 1965. Photo: Bettmann/Getty Contributor

Efforts to save the office where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., planned some of the most important moments of the civil rights movement are hitting roadblocks amid a political stalemate.

Why it matters: The U.S. Park Service needs to OK agreements so a developer restoring the historic Prince Hall Masonic Lodge in Atlanta — which once housed King's Southern Christian Leadership Conference — can tap into private funding and begin work.