Dr. Anthony Fauci raged at Sen. Rand Paul on Tuesday, accusing the Kentucky Republican of “distorting” everything about him and fueling threats against the White House chief medical adviser and his family.
During their verbal throwdown before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, Fauci accused Paul of claiming he was “responsible for the death of 4 to 5 million people, which is really irresponsible.”
“What happens when he gets out and accuses me of things that are completely untrue,” the top health official said, “is that kindles the crazies out there, and I have threats upon my life, harassment of my family and my children with obscene phone calls because people are lying about me.”
Fauci then referenced the arrest last month of 25-year-old Kuachua Brillion Xiong, of California, who was found to have a “hit list” with Fauci’s name on it when he was pulled over on Interstate 80 in Iowa.
“They found in his car an AR-15 and multiple magazines of ammunition,” the top doc said, “because he thinks that maybe I’m killing people.
“So I asked myself, ‘Why would a senator want to do this?’ So [I] go to [the] Rand Paul website,” said Fauci, brandishing a sheaf of computer printouts, “and you see ‘Fire Dr. Fauci,’ with a little box that says ‘Contribute here.’ And you can do $5, $10, $20, $100.
“You are making a catastrophic epidemic for your political gain,” Fauci began before Paul cut him off.
“You have politically attacked your colleagues, and in a politically reprehensible way –” Paul started to say before committee chairman Patty Murray (D-Wash.) cut the exchange short.
Earlier in their exchange, Paul pressed Fauci on why he would “claim unilaterally” that any criticism of him is a “criticism of science itself,” calling the idea “quite dangerous.”
“A planner who believes he is the science leads to an arrogance that justifies in his mind using government resources to smear and to destroy the reputations of other scientists who disagree with them,” said Paul, who accused Fauci and then-National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins of unfairly maligning the authors of the anti-lockdown Great Barrington Declaration in late 2020.
“This is not only antithetical to the scientific method, it’s cheap politics and it’s reprehensible,” Paul said. “Dr. Fauci, do you really think it’s appropriate to use your $420,000 salary to attack scientists that disagree with you?”
“No, I think in usual fashion, Senator, you are distorting everything about me,” Fauci pushed back.
“Senator, we are here at a committee to look at a virus now that has killed almost 900,000 people,” Fauci told Paul later in the hearing. “And the purpose of the committee was to try and get things out how we can help to get the American public. And you keep coming back to personal attacks on me that have absolutely no relevance to reality.”
The senator then asked Fauci if he thought the US response to the pandemic amounted to a “great success.”
“More people have died now under President Biden than did under President Trump,” Paul said. “You are the one responsible, you are the architect — you are the lead architect for the response from the government. And now 800,000 people have died. Do you think it’s a winning success, what you’ve advocated for government?”
“Senator, first of all, if you look at everything I said, you accuse me of, in a monolithic way, telling people what they need to do,” Fauci began. “Everything that I’ve said — [which] has been in support of the CDC guidelines — wear a mask, get boosted –“
“And you’ve made it coercive and done by mandate,” Paul jumped in. “You’ve advocated your infallible opinion by dictated by law.”
Over the past year, Paul has repeatedly slammed Fauci for his involvement in gain-of-function research in Wuhan, China — where the coronavirus is suspected to have originated — and called for his resignation in November.
Amid the criticism, the Biden administration has repeatedly defended Fauci, who has been the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984.