Republican Senators Rand Paul and Ted Cruz snapped back at Anthony Fauci for remarks he made in a TV interview Sunday responding to GOP criticism of the infectious disease expert.
Fauci also referred to himself in the third person during the interview.
In an interview with CBS News’ Face The Nation, President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser also dismissed Republican criticism of his work as ‘lies’ and agreed with the notion that GOP lawmakers were using him as a scapegoat, even referring to himself in the third person.
‘Anybody who’s looking at this carefully realizes that there’s a distinct anti-science flavor to this, so if they get up and criticize science, nobody’s going to know what they’re talking about,’ Fauci told CBS’ Margaret Brennan. ‘But if they get up and really aim their bullets at Tony Fauci, well people can recognize that there’s a person there, so it’s easy to criticize, but they’re really criticizing science because I represent science.’
Paul responded in a tweet Sunday: ‘The absolute hubris of someone claiming THEY represent science. It’s astounding and alarming that a public health bureaucrat would even think to claim such a thing, especially one who has worked so hard to ignore the science of natural immunity.’
Paul had confronted Fauci earlier this year of lying about the NIH’s involvement in coronavirus research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, a claim Fauci fought back against, calling Paul a liar.
In May, Fauci testified that the NIH ‘has not ever and does not now fund gain of function research in the Wuhan Institute of Virology.’
However, Fauci also said during that hearing that there was no way to know if Chinese scientists at the Wuhan Institute of Virology lied and conducted gain of function experiments on bat coronaviruses using U.S. tax dollars.
‘There’s no way of guaranteeing that,’ Fauci said at a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing, responding to a question from Republican Sen. John Kennedy.
‘But in our experience with grantees, including Chinese grantees, which we have had interactions with for a very long period of time – they are very competent, trustworthy scientists,’ Fauci testified.
Then in July Dr. Fauci lashed out at Senator Paul during a Senate hearing as he accused the Kentucky Republican of being a ‘liar’ who ‘doesn’t know what you’re talking about’ when it comes to COVID origins and gain-of-function research.
‘Dr. Fauci, knowing that it is a crime to lie to Congress, do you wish to retract your statement of May 11 where you claimed the NIH [National Institutes of Health] never funded gain of function research in Wuhan?’ Paul asked of the nation’s top immunologist and Joe Biden’s top COVID advisor.
‘Senator Paul, I have never lied before the Congress and I do not retract that statement,’ Fauci shot back in the heated exchange on Capitol Hill during a Senate Health Committee hearing.
Senator Rand Paul responded to comments made about him by Dr Anthony Fauci on Sunday
Fauci singled out Paul as a liar. The two have argued in Congressional testimony several times in 2021
He sat down for an hour-long interview with CBS News’ Face The Nation that aired Sunday
Texas Senator Ted Cruz also had harsh words in response to Fauci’s criticism.
Brennan told Fauci, ‘Senator Cruz told the attorney general you should be prosecuted.’
Cruz told Attorney General Merrick Garland during a contentious hearing in late October that Fauci should be investigated over accusations he lied to Congress.
Fauci laughed off the accusation before appearing to claim that Cruz had a role in the events leading up to the deadly Capitol riot.
‘Yeah. I have to laugh at that. I should be prosecuted? What happened on January 6, senator?’ Fauci replied.
Cruz responded in a tweet thread of his own.
The former presidential candidate wrote: ‘Fauci is an unelected technocrat who has distorted science and facts in order to exercise authoritarian control over millions of Americans. He lives in a liberal world where his smug ‘I REPRESENT science’ attitude is praised.’
He then went on to restate his criticisms of Fauci.
The news anchor asked Fauci if he thought ‘this is about making you a scapegoat’ to deflect from Donald Trump.
‘Of course, you have to be asleep not to figure that one out,’ he said.
‘That’s OK, I’m just going to do my job and I’m going to be saving lives and they’re going to be lying.’
Cruz is one of several Republican senators who have accused Fauci of lying to Congress about funding for biological research involving studying the genetic sequencing of viruses, known as ‘gain of function’ research.
Republicans have claimed that the National Institutes of Health (NIH), where Fauci works as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, funded the controversial research in Wuhan, where COVID-19 first emerged.
Both NIH and Fauci have denied the claim.
Fauci dismissed Ted Cruz’s claim that he should be prosecuted over accusations he lied to Congress
Ted Cruz is one of several Republicans accusing Fauci of lying, which the scientist claims is an attempt to distract from Donald Trump
Senator Cruz also criticized Fauci’s remarks in a Twitter thread
Elsewhere in the hour-long interview, Fauci warned the US could be on the precipice of yet another surge in COVID-19 cases.
Infections have begun to rise in parts of the US after a hopeful downturn following the last summer surge.
Burgeoning cases are compounded by concerns over the new Omicron variant first detected in South Africa. No cases have been found in the US yet, but the Biden administration announced travel bans on eight African countries in a bid to slow the strain’s arrival.
‘We certainly have the potential to go into a fifth wave,’ Fauci said.
‘And the fifth wave, or the magnitude of any increase, if you want to call it that it will turn into a wave, will really be dependent upon what we do in the next few weeks to a couple of months.’
He also warned of a potential and even ‘likely’ fifth coronavirus wave if the US fails to blunt the rise in daily infections
He said the US needs to urgently ‘blunt’ the rising daily case rates – which averaged at nearly 95,000 this last week after hovering at 70,000 – 80,000 earlier in November.
‘If we don’t do it successfully, it is certainly conceivable and maybe likely that we will see another bit of a surge. How bad it gets is dependent upon us and how we mitigate,’ Fauci said.
In a separate interview on ABC Sunday, Fauci told host George Stephanopoulos that the Omicron variant will ‘inevitably’ be detected within the United States.
‘If and when – and it’s going to be when – it comes here, hopefully we will be ready for it by enhancing our capabilities via vaccine, masking – all the things that we do, and should be doing,’ Fauci said.
He admitted that Biden’s travel bans aren’t a fool-proof solution, but added they would ‘delay it enough to get us better prepared.’